Plant Diversity - Modules
Diversity and Identification of Plants
Understanding and identifying plant diversity is fundamental to biodiversity conservation and delivery of the Targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
In this module, you will develop skills in the identification of major plant families of the World, understand the basis of phylogenetic classification and develop your knowledge of the taxonomic hierarchy and the use of botanical terminology.
You will become familiar with major families as a particularly useful first step in plant identification through reference to specimens in the Reading Herbarium and live material using the University glasshouses and Harris Gardens, and visits to the Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Selected temperate and tropical plant families will be discussed in terms of their defining characteristics, their role in major plant communities, and their economic importance.
Students will come away from this module with a practical knowledge of key global plant families, an understanding of plant morphology and the characteristic features and relationships of the major groups of lycophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms, the role of molecular data handling, phylogenetic tree construction, the interpretation of phylogenies and familiarity with the working of a herbarium.
Assignments include preparing a scrapbook of plant family identification notes with emphasis on key diagnostic features. The second written assignment is a blog reviewing current literature on the evolution and/or diversification of a plant family. There is also a plant Identification test during the Summer Term and include both open book and closed book elements.
This module is 20 credits, runs in the Autumn & Spring Terms and is taught by Dr Alastair Culham.