Building Our Botanical Capital

Conference Program

The Building Our Botanical Capital conference will include a range of symposia on current topics in plant systematics. These are likely to include:

  • Mobilising collections data for novel applications
  • Genomic data in microevolution and species delimitation
  • New methods in phylogenetics
  • Integrated floras

Conference Proceedings

The editors of Australian Systematic Botany would like to invite all presenters at the Building Our Botanical Capital conference to consider submitting their written manuscript to the journal. This includes authors of oral and poster presentations on all aspects of plant systematic research. Full research papers will be published in a special edition of Australian Systematic Botany following journal peer review and completion of revisions.

Draft Program

Update 4 December 2015: A copy of the final program is now available in PDF format.

The full program is summarised in the table below.

  Mon 30 Nov. Tue 1 Dec. Wed 2 Dec. Thu 3 Dec.
Morning Keynote: Collections
Vicki Funk
Keynote: Genomics
Craig Moritz
Keynote: Integrated Floras
Ilse Breitwieser
Workshops and Field Trip
Symposium: Collections-based science Symposium: Genomic data in plant systematics Symposium: Integrated floras, eFloras, and online keys
Morning Tea Break
Symposium: Collections-based science Symposium: Genomic data in plant systematics Symposium: Integrated floras, eFloras, and online keys
Afternoon Symposium: Assembly and visualisation of morphological data Symposium: Phylogenetics Burbidge Medallist presentataion & lecture Workshops and Field Trip
Afternoon Tea Break
Symposium: Phylogenetics Symposium: Phylogenetics Symposium: Phylogenetics
ASBS AGM Poster session Award of student prizes/Closing remarks
Evening Public panel on science & policy Decadal Plan discussion Eichler Memorial Free time
Conference dinner

Presentations and Posters

Submission of abstracts for oral presentations and posters closed on Friday 30 October.

Regular oral presentations will be 12 minutes long, with 3 minutes allotted for questions. Abstracts not chosen for an oral presentation may be invited to be delivered as a poster presentation. Slides for oral presentations should be prepared as PowerPoint or PDF files and will be displayed from PCs using Windows 7.

Space will be provided for those who wish to present posters. Posters should be A0 size in portrait orientation (i.e. 841 mm wide by 1189 mm high). Posters should be made available for display either before the first conference session or during the morning tea break on Monday 30 November.

Keynote Speakers

Collections Symposium: Dr Vicki Funk

Vicki Funk is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. She specialises in the systematics of the flowering plant family Compositae (Asteraceae) home of sunflowers, daisies, and thistles. She is the Director of the Biological Diversity of the Guiana Shield Program and is President of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy. She is involved in fieldwork around the world, especially in Compositae hot spots such as southern Africa and the Americas. Her research interests cover systematics, biogeography, biodiversity, phylogenetic theory, and large scale synthetic works. She has published nearly 200 peer reviewed papers and 9 books.

Genomics Symposium: Professor Craig Moritz, FAA

Craig did his undergraduate at University of Melbourne (1976-1979), where he developed his passion for evolutionary biology. For his PhD at ANU (1980-1985), he studied chromosome evolution and speciation in arid zone lizards, along the way discovering all-female reproduction in Heteronotia binoei. Then he moved across the Pacific Ocean for a postdoc at University of Michigan (1985-1988; mitochondrial DNA and evolution of parthenogenesis), before returning to a faculty position at The University of Queensland (1988-2000), including a stint as Head of School. From 2000-2012 he was Director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. From mid 2012 he settled at the ANU as a Professor, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of the joint ANU-CSIRO Centre for Biodiversity Analysis. Craig's ANU research group's focus is the evolution of diversity of terrestrial vertebrates in relation to environmental history and with a focus on tropical Australia and its connections with New Guinea. They develop and apply new methods across population- and phylo-genomics and spatial modeling of diversity with evidence on phenotypic variation to understand how evolutionary responses to past environmental change — adaptation, range shifting and speciation — have shaped the diversity that we see now, with applications to conservation planning and practice.

Integrated Floras Symposium: Dr Ilse Breitwieser

Dr Ilse Breitwieser leads the Characterising Land Biota portfolio at New Zealand's Crown Research Institute Landcare Research — Manaaki Whenua and is also the Director of the Allan Herbarium (CHR). Dr Breitwieser's main research interests are systematics of New Zealand Compositae, particularly the Gnaphalieae, and the development of a new electronic Flora, Fauna and Mycota of New Zealand. She regards trans-Tasman collaboration in systematics as very important and is currently on the Executive of CHAH, the Steering Committee of the Australasian Electronic Flora, and a strong supporter of the ASBS.


On Thursday 3 December, two concurrent workshops will be offered.

Workshop One: Phylogenomic analyses using the multispecies coalescent model

Presenter: Dr Scott V. Edwards, Harvard University

Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He came to Harvard in December 2003 after serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research focuses on diverse aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics. He has conducted fieldwork in phylogeography in Australia since 1987 and conducted some of the first phylogeographic analyses based on DNA sequencing. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in immunogenetics at the University of Florida and gained experience with studying the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of birds, an important gene complex for interactions of birds and infectious diseases, pathogens and mate choice. An important system for studying these issues is the ongoing epizootic involving House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) and the bacterial pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum. His work on the MHC led him to study the large-scale structure of the avian genome and informed his current interest in using comparative genomics to study the genetic basis of phenotypic innovation in birds. In the last 10 years Dr. Edwards has helped develop novel methods for estimating phylogenetic trees from multilocus DNA sequence data. His recent work uses comparative genomics in diverse contexts to study macroevolutionary patterns in birds, including the origin of feathers and the evolution of flightlessness.

Cost: $30 full, $15 student/retired
Full day; morning and afternoon tea provided, lunch self-catered

The workshop sponsored by the Centre for Biodiversity Analysis will consist of lectures, demonstrations and hands-on analyses of phylogenetic methods using the multispecies coalescent model (also known as "species tree methods"). Several methods will be discussed, including Bayesian methods (including BEST), maximum likelihood methods (including MP-EST and STELLS) and fast, semi-parametric methods such as STAR, STEAC and NJst. In addition, the R package Phybase, written by Liang Liu, will be demonstrated. This package is useful for handling, simulating and analysing gene trees and species trees.

Workshop participants should bring multi-locus data sets with them in nexus, fasta or phylip format to analyse during the workshop.


Workshop Two: Using Atlas of Living Australia tools for research and data exploration

Presenter: TBA
Cost: $20 full, $10 student/retired
Morning only; morning tea provided

The Atlas of Living Australia provides several software tools useful for research and data exploration in systematics, evolutionary biology, ecology and biogeography. The workshop will provide an introduction to their use with a focus on Phylolink, an application that allows the user to combine their own phylogenetic tree and character table with occurrence data from ALA or their own datasets.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own phylogenetic trees, which should be in Newick or Nexml format with species as terminals and each species only once in the tree, and their own table of e.g. morphological or anatomical characters in .csv format.