History of Phycology - Development of Public Awareness

Development of Public Awareness

The number of books published in the mid to late 19th century shows how interest in the natural world developed. Books on algae were written by: Isabella Gifford (1853) The Marine Botanist..., some of her specimens are in the Ulster Museum; D. Landsborough (c.1779–1854) A Popular History of British Seaweeds,... third edition published in 1857; Louisa Lane Clarke (c.1812–1883) The Common Seaweeds of the British Coast and Channel Islands;... in 1865; S.O.Gray (1828–1902) British Seaweeds:... published 1867 and W.H.Grattann British Marine Algae:...published about 1874. These books were for the common people.

In 1902 Edward Arthur Lionel Batters (1860–1907) published "A catalogue of the British Marine algae." (Batters, 1902). In this he detailed records of algae found on the shores of the British Isles with the localities. This was the start of a new approach, the bringing together of records, detailed keys, checklists and mapping schemes.

The process accelerated in the 20th century. Lilly Newton (née Batten) (1893–1981) Professor in Botany at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and Professor Emeritus in 1931 wrote: A Handbook of the British Seaweeds. This was the first, and for quite a time, the only book for identification of seaweeds in the British Isles using a botanical key. In 1962 Eifion Jones published: A key to the genera of the British seaweeds. This small booklet provided a valuable source in the period before the valuable series Seaweeds of the British Isles was produced by the British Museum (Natural History) or The Natural History Museum.

Research advanced so quickly that the need for an up-to-date checklist became apparent. Mary Parke (1902–1981), who was a founder member of the British Phycological Society, produced a preliminary checklist of British marine algae in 1953, corrections and additions of this were published in 1956, 1957 and 1959. In 1964 M.Parke and Peter Stanley Dixon (1929–1993) published a revised check-list, a second revision of this was produced in 1968 and a third revision in 1976. Distribution was added to the checklist in 1986 with G.R.South and I.Tittley's A Checklist and Distributional Index of the Benthic Marine Algae of the North Atlantic Ocean. In 2003 A Check-list and Atlas of the Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland was published by Gavin Hardy and Michael Guiry with a revised edition in 2006 . This shows how rapidly knowledge of algae, at least in the British Isles, advanced. First efforts had been made by interested biologists and people capable of identifying the algae, this required books using the botanical names. Botanical keys to identify the plants then developed, followed by checklists. As more information was brought to light by interested workers, some volunteers, the checklists were improved and eventually a mapping scheme brought together all this information. The same pattern of knowledge developed with birds, mammals and flowering plants, though to a different time-scale and knowledge in other parts of the world has developed to this degree.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Phycology

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