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Plants and Society, 3/e
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Plant Systematics and Evolution

Chapter Summary

1. Plant systematics has its origins in the classical works of Theophrastus of ancient Greece, who is generally regarded as the Father of Botany. The study of plants, as did many other intellectual endeavors, went into a decline during the Dark Ages of Europe but was later revived owing to renewed interest in herbalism during the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.

2. Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist of the eighteenth century, is credited with the creation of the binomial, or scientific name. Although common names are often informative and readily accessible, scientific names have the advantage of being recognized the world over and unique to a single species.

3. The taxonomic hierarchy includes the major ranks: kingdom, division, class, order, family, genus, and species.

4. Biologists have wrestled with the concept of the species; the biological concept describes a species as a group of interbreeding populations, reproductively isolated from other populations.

5. Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection irrevocably changed the way biologists viewed species. Natural selection favors those individuals that possess traits that better enable them to survive in the environment. These individuals survive to reproduce, and many of their offspring will tend to have these adaptations and pass them on to future generations. In this way, populations change over time. The four underlying conditions of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection are variation, overproduction of offspring, competition, and survival to reproduce.