August 2005 issue out

The August 2005 issue is out, with a cover reflecting summer (for those in the Northern Hemisphere). Data sets and appendices are available online.


Nominations are solicited for the Robert H. Gibbs Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Systematic Ichthyology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). The prize is awarded for "an outstanding body of published work in systematic ichthyology" to a citizen of a Western Hemisphere nation who has not been a recipient of the award. The award is offered annually and consists of a plaque and a monetary award (approximately $5000).

Fast fungal trees

The method of automating the construction of fungal trees described in the August issue of Systematic Biology by Hibbett et al. (Automated Phylogenetic Taxonomy: An Example in the Homobasidiomycetes (Mushroom-Forming Fungi)) has been featured in Science. For more information, please visit the mor web site.

NESCent call for proposals

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) would like to announce our call for proposals effective August 15, 2005, for Postdoctoral Fellows, Sabbatarians, Catalysis Groups and Working Groups. We hope to fund 7 postdocs, 5 sabbatarians, and 6 groups. The deadline for proposals is October 15, 2005. Please see complete details on our website:

June 2005 issue online

The June 2005 issue is now online.

Books reviewed in this issue (available from

Impact factor 10.257

The ISI Journal Citation Reports that Systematic Biology had an impact factor of 10.257 for the year 2004, up from 7.740 in 2003. I think this reflects very well on the work my predecessor Chris Simon and her Associate Editors put in to the journal. In the Evolutionary Biology category, Systematic Biology is second only to the review journal TREE. Hence, we have the largest impact factor of any research journal in evolutionary biology.

Tree Thinking

The Tree Thinking Group is a loose association of people , including researchers, teachers and students, who are interested in teaching and learning evolutionary biology effectively. There are, of course, many groups that are interested in improving evolution education and you can find out about some of them on our resource pages. What makes this effort stand out somewhat is our focus on tree thinking â�" that is, the use of a phylogenetic perspective for making sense of biology.

Visit the web site at

Reconstructing Complex Evolutionary Histories

The 52nd Annual Systematics Symposium "Reconstructing Complex Evolutionary Histories: Gene-Species Trees, Historical Biogeography, and Coevolutions" will be held from 7-9 October 2005 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Registration forms are available from our web site. For more information, please contact the Symposium Organizer: Mick Richardson, Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, U.S.A. Tel.: +1 (314) 577 5176, Fax: +1 (314) 577 0820, e-mail

Supertree book

Phylogenetic supertrees:Combining information to reveal the Tree of Life
edited by Olaf Bininda-Emonds

This is the first book on "phylogenetic supertrees", a recent, but controversial development for inferring evolutionary trees. Rather than analyze the combined primary character data directly, supertree construction proceeds by combining the tree topologies derived from those data. This difference in strategy has allowed for the exciting possibility of larger, more complete phylogenies than are otherwise currently possible, with the potential to revolutionize evolutionarily-based research.

Do orthologous gene phylogenies really support tree-thinking?

This provocatively entitled paper by Bapteste et al. has just been published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

The authors conclude:

Our phylogenetic analyses do not support tree-thinking. These results have important conceptual and practical implications. We argue that representations other than a tree should be investigated in this case because a non-critical concatenation of markers could be highly misleading.