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This book focuses on botanical monography, which is the cornerstone of all activities within plant systematics. Within the monograph is where the limits of species are presented, their characteristics, distributions, ecology, correct names, and evolutionary relationships. This information represents the basic statement about species of plants that grow on our planet, from which come additional studies on floristics (what plants grow where) and evolutionary biology. To understand the dynamics of the evolutionary process requires understanding what the closely related species are. Without this basic information, it is virtually impossible to understand mechanisms of organic evolution.
Despite the acknowledged importance of botanical monography, in recent years many of the young generation of plant systematists have elected to concentrate more on DNA studies to the exclusion of monography. This raises concerns because it is in the monograph that hypotheses of relationships are revealed, and that are subsequently tested with DNA data. Hence, if no new monographs are being produced, we will soon have no new hypotheses to continue testing. This new book addresses these problems and offers solutions. The book has four parts: (1) The value of botanical monography; (2) Data and analysis in monographic work; (3) Literature and nomenclature for monographic research; and (4) Perspectives. The objectives in the 12 chapters of the book, all authored by established monographers, are to present ideas on the importance of monography and those tools that are available for doing successful monographic work.