Call for Symposia for the 2012 SSB Annual Meeting, Ottawa, Canada

The Society of Systematic Biologists invites proposals for symposia at the 2012 Evolution meeting to be held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada from 6-10 July 2012.

Deadline: for full consideration, please submit proposals by Sept 15, 2011.

Proposals should include (1) a descriptive title, (2) one or two paragraphs explaining the purpose of the symposium and its relevance to systematics, (3) a list of presentations including proposed speakers, their institutions or affiliations, and their presentation titles, and (4) an indication of whether the speakers have been invited and whether they have agreed to participate.

Graduate Assistantships: Systematics of North American water mites at University of Arkansas

Two NSF-funded PhD positions are available to work on a systematic revision of North American water mites in the family Torrenticolidae with Dr. Ashley Dowling at the University of Arkansas in the Department of Entomology. The project starts in January 2012 and is in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Radwell (Univ. of Arkansas) and Dr. Ian Smith (Canadian National Collection).
Water mites (Acari: Hydrachnidiae) are among the most numerous, diverse, ecologically important â?" and unknown â?" groups of arthropods in freshwater ecosystems, however, there are very few water mite experts worldwide, and even fewer trained in modern systematics. The objective of this PEET project is to revise, monograph, and disseminate data on a North American water mite family, Torrenticolidae, while training two PhD students in water mite systematics using modern taxonomic and phylogenetic methods.
Research will include 1) field collection in the North American Rocky Mountains, Yukon and Alaska, the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and Appalachian Mountain drainages in Georgia and Florida; 2) species descriptions focusing on a digital workflow and cybertaxonomic methods to speed up the time from discovery to dissemination of data; and 3) a full phylogenetic revision of Torrenticolidae based upon molecular and morphological data.
Previous experience with mites is not required for work on this project. We are primarily looking for students with a good background in biology and a strong interest in systematics and natural history. Students should be self motivated and possess a desire to become an expert in a group very few know much about.
For more information about the project or the graduate assistantships, please contact Ashley Dowling at 479-575-2482 or Information about the University of Arkansas can be obtained at and the Department of Entomology at The PhD positions are fully funded and include student stipend, healthcare and tuition at the University of Arkansas.

Modern Taxonomy course programme 2011-2012

The Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST), originally funded by the EC in the framework of the EDIT project, has launched the Modern Taxonomy course programme 2011-2012 to provide future professionals with fundamental expert knowledge on basic taxonomy.

The course programme targets topics such as: nomenclature; describing, writing and illustrating biodiversity; collection conservation.

More info at:

NSF Graduate Assistantship studying Hawaiian land snails

A National Science Foundation funded graduate student position is available to work on systematics, evolution and conservation of Hawaiian land snails in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Cowie and Dr. Ken Hayes at the University of Hawaii.

For full details and application instructions please go to

A Philosophical Critique of Philogenetic Systematics

Zander, R. H. 2010 [2011]. Structuralism in Phylogenetic Systematics. Biological Theory 5: 383-394. [Abstract:] Systematics based solely on structuralist principles is nonscience because it is derived from first principles that are inconsistent in dealing with both synchronic and diachronic aspects of evolution, and its evolutionary models involve hidden causes, and unnamable and unobservable entities. Structuralist phylogenetics emulates axiomatic mathematics through emphasis on deduction, and "hypotheses" and "mapped trait changes" that are actually lemmas and theorems. Sister-group only evolutionary trees have no caulistic element of scientific realism. This results in a degenerate systematics based on patterns of fact or evidence being treated as so fundamental that all other data may be mapped to the cladogram, resulting in an apparently well-supported classification that is devoid of evolutionary theory. Structuralism in systematics is based on a non-ultrametric analysis of sister-group informative data that cannot detect or model a named taxon giving rise to a named taxon, resulting in classifications that do not reflect macroevolutionary changes unless they are sister lineages. Conservation efforts are negatively affected through epistemological extinction of scientific names. Evolutionary systematics is a viable alternative, involving both deduction and induction, hypothesis and theory, developing trees with both synchronic and diachronic dimensions often inferring nameable ancestral taxa, and resulting in classifications that advance evolutionary theory and explanations for particular groups.

Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 - registration closing July 1

Registration and abstract submission for the â??Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 â?" new data, newchallenges" conference, to be held from October 11-14, 2011 at the University of Munich (Germany) closes on July 1, 2011, midnightCEST (UTC + 2)!* (about 14 days from now!)

Full list of confirmed keynote speakers can be found at, and you can register and submit your abstract directly at:

Graduate assistantships in insect systematics Arizona State University

Starting the Fall semester of 2011, teaching and research assistantships will be available at the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University (, for graduate students (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) who are interested in insect systematics. A desire to work with weevils would be great but other taxon interests will receive full consideration. ASU-SoLS offers a wide range of learning and research opportunities (e.g.;;, and is close to fascinating insect habitats. Interested candidates should send a statement of interest and CV to Nico Franz

Computational Phyloinformatics August 1-11 2001 Kyoto

Bioinformatics Center of Kyoto University Application Deadline: May 31, 2011

Computational Phyloinformatics is a 11-day international course (August 1-11, 2011) co-organized by the Computational Biology Research Center (CBRC/AIST), the Bioinformatics Center of Kyoto University, the Database Center for Life Science (DBCLS/JST), and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). This course, which will take place at Kyoto University directly following the SMBE Meeting, aims to give participants practical knowledge and hands-on skills in phyloinformatics.

Biennial conference of the Systematics Association 4th - 8th July 2011

We are pleased to announce that registration is open for the 8th biennial conference of the Systematics Association, held for the first time in Northern Ireland! There is an exciting programme that includes both plenaries and thematic symposia, as well as a large number of contributed sessions. Currently scheduled symposia include:

  • Next Generation Systematics - Studying Evolution and Diversity in an Era of Ubiquitous Genomics
  • Arthropod Systematics: are Morphology, Palaeontology and Molecules Coming Together?
  • Algal Systematics: Where Next?
  • Advances in Using Museum Specimens and Ancient DNA in Systematics Research

Symposia will include a mixture of talks from invited speakers and other contributions. The Biennial also presents excellent opportunities for contributed papers on any aspect of systematics and is a great forum for students and young researchers to present their work. For further details, please see