Diatom Classification and (Some) Other Stories

Description: This presentation will concern diatom classification with a focus on the genus Fragilaria. First, I will offer some comments on classification in general with respect to two popular viewpoints. The first is that biological classifications are simply aids to identification, designed so we might put a name to that specimen in front of us. Second is that biological classification above the species level is simply a series of opinions concerning what does or does not constitute any particular taxon, at any given rank: genus, family, order, etc. Identification is, of course, a necessary outcome but here I want to pursue the idea that, instead, classification is not about one or another opinion nor is it just about species, but is a serious, challenging and complex scientific endeavour. I will primarily focus on the genus Fragilaria to discuss what it is (or isn’t) – a genus that has plagued my entire career to date, continues to do so and for good reason.

Target Audience: For anyone who has ever wondered why and for what reasons diatom classifications keep changing.