Skip navigation
You are here: Home > NaturePlus > Science News > Science News > 2014 > July

The NaturePlus Forums will be offline from mid August 2018. The content has been saved and it will always be possible to see and refer to archived posts, but not to post new items. This decision has been made in light of technical problems with the forum, which cannot be fixed or upgraded.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the very great success of the forums and to the community spirit there. We plan to create new community features and services in the future so please watch this space for developments in this area. In the meantime if you have any questions then please email:

Fossil enquiries:
Life Sciences & Mineralogy enquiries:
Commercial enquiries:


Daubenton was an EU Leonardo da Vinci programme-funded project which provided participants with a two-week training placement at an institution in Europe. Participants could visit Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet Stockholm, University of Copenhagen, Museum of Natural History of University of Florence, Naturalis, Leiden, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, or Národni Museum, Prague.


The project enabled collections management, technical and public engagement staff to visit collaborating institutions across Europe, allowing them to broaden their skills and expertise and significantly raise their awareness of alternative approaches to the management, display and educational use of museum collections as applied in other European institutions. Much of the learning experience revolved around observing how and why particular procedures are adopted and implemented with hands-on effort.


Participants from the Museum, National Museums Wales and World Museum Liverpool will be sharing their experiences of working in a European institute, how different institutions use and manage their collections, and what applications the findings from their visits had in their home institution. There will also be a short presentation on the possibility of a future similar project to be applied for under Erasmus+ Key Action 1, and how to get involved.

Collections Seminar Series - FINAL Daubenton 7 Aug.jpg


Robert W. Scotland, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford


Wednesday 9 July 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)



The collective efforts of taxonomists over time has played a pivotal role in identifying many natural groups of monophyletic taxa.  How this task has been achieved is by no means clear given that for much of the history of taxonomy there has been no universally agreed method for discovering taxa. Nevertheless, many monophyletic taxa were discovered through the identification of shared characters (novelties, special similarities, synapomorphies, taxic homologues, good characters, conserved characters).  It seems the history of taxonomy is the history of ‘character weighting’ in favour of some characters being useful and others not. In more recent times all characters have been considered phylogenetically useful but only at the appropriate hierarchical level. Thus phylogenetic analysis of morphological data has become akin to the study of character evolution. 


In this talk I will show that morphological traits are poorly correlated with phylogeny and that measures ofphylogenetic diversity in conservation may not maximize feature diversity. Furthermore, because the probability of two random binary characters being compatible with each other converges to zero exponentially quickly as the number of taxa grows, then compatibility is best able to accurately discover and distinguish evolutionary novelty.


More information on attending seminars at