Supporting Spartina: Interdisciplinary perspective shows Spartina as a distinct solid genus

Alejandro Bortolus, Paul Adam, Janine Adams, Malika Ainouche, Debra Ayres, Mark D Bertness, Tjeerd J. Bouma, John F. Bruno, Isabel Caçador, James D. Carlton, Jesus M. Castillo, Cesar S.B. Costa, Anthony John Davy, Linda Deegan, Bernardo Duarte, Enrique Figueroa, Joel Gerwein, Alan J. Gray, Edwin D. Grosholz, Sally D. HackerA. Randall Hughes, Enrique Mateos-Naranjo, Irving A. Mendelssohn, James T. Morris, Adolfo F. Muñoz-Rodríguez, Francisco J.J. Nieva, Lisa A. Levin, Bo Li, Wenwen Lieu, Steven C. Pennings, Andrea Pickart, Susana Redondo-Gómez, David M. Richardson, Armel Salmon, Evangelina Schwindt, Brian R. Silliman, Erik E. Sotka, Clive Stace, Mark Sytsma, Stijn Temmerman, R. Eugene Turner, Ivan Valiela, Michael P. Weinstein, Judith S. Weis

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In 2014 a DNA-based phylogenetic study confirming the paraphyly of the grass subtribe Sporobolinae proposed the creation of a large monophyletic genus Sporobolus, including (among others) species previously included in the genera Spartina, Calamovilfa, and Sporobolus. Spartina species have contributed substantially (and continue contributing) to our knowledge in multiple disciplines, including ecology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, biogeography, experimental ecology, environmental management, restoration ecology, history, economics, and sociology. There is no rationale so compelling to subsume the name Spartina as a subgenus that could rival the striking, global iconic history and use of the name Spartina for over 200 years. We do not agree with the arguments underlying the proposal to change Spartina to Sporobolus. We understand the importance of taxonomy and of formalized nomenclature and hope that by opening this debate we will encourage positive feedback that will strengthen taxonomic decisions with an interdisciplinary perspective. We consider the strongly distinct, monophyletic clade Spartina should simply and efficiently be treated as the genus Spartina.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02863
Issue number11
Early online date9 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • botanical nomenclature
  • interdisciplinary decisions
  • cordgrass
  • salt marsh
  • coastal ecology

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