Robert Scotland

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK

Reader in Systematic Botany

Robert has research activities in monographing Ipomoea, the genus which includes sweet potato, and specifically identifying Crop Wild Relatives of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas).

This is part of an award from the Leverhulme Trust to write a Foundation Monograph of Ipomoea. For more details click here.

His research recently has focused on a number of issues relative to the discovery process of new species as informed decisions concerning global taxonomic priorities demand some understanding of how species are discovered. His group has shown that on average there is a lag period of 35 years between collection and description of new species and that a very large proportion of type specimens are collected by a few 'big hitter' collectors i.e. 50% of all type specimens have been collected by 2% of collectors.

His groups has also explored, for flowering plants, why the increasing number of authors associated with species discovery do not reflect an increase in taxonomic capacity as has been claimed in recent literature.

He has recently been awarded a pump-priming SynTax grant to produce a Foundation Monograph of Convolvulus (commonly known as bindweed) with the overall aim of accelarating the pace of taxonomic revisions of large problematic groups of plants whose taxonomy is poorly known. Other funding during 2014 includes an NERC IAA grant for illustrating new species of Ipomoea and a John Fell pump-priming award for identifying Crop Wild Relatives of Sweet Potato.


Recent Relevant Publications: 

Hay, Angela; Pieper, Bjorn; Cooke, Elizabeth; Mandáková, Terezie; Cartolano, Maria; Tattersall, Alexander; Dello Ioio, Raffaele; McGowan, Simon; Barkoulas, Michalis; Galinha, Carla; Rast, Madlen; Hofhuis, Hugo; Then, Christiane; Plieske, Jörg; Ganal, Martin; Mott, Richard; Martinez-Garcia, Jaime; Carine, Mark; Scotland, Robert; Gan, Xiangchao; Filatov, Dmitry; Lysak, Martin ; Tsiantis, Miltos. Cardamine hirsuta: a versatile genetic system for comparative studies (in press). The Plant Journal 78(1): 1-15.

Kelly, S., Grenyer, R. & R.W. Scotland. 2014 Phylogenetic trees do not reliably predict feature diversity. Diversity & Distributions. 20: 600-612.

Bebber DP, Polaszek, A, Wood JRI, Barker C. & RW Scotland. 2014. Taxonomic capacity and author inflation. New Phytologist. 202: 741-742.

Bebber DP, Wood JRI, Barker C. & RW Scotland. 2014.  Author inflation masks global capacity for species discovery in flowering plants. New Phytologist, 210: 700-706.

Mark T Waters, Anna M M Tiley, Elena M Kramer, Alan W Meerow, Jane A Langdale and Robert W Scotland.  2013. The corona of the daffodil Narcissus bulbocodium shares stamen-like identity and is distinct from the orthodox floral whorls. The Plant Journal 74: 615-625.

Scotland, R.W. 2013. Some observations on the homology of the daffodil corona, Chapter 12: 297-303 in Early Event in Monocot Evolution ed. P. Wilkin and S.J. Mayo. Cambridge University Press. The Systematics Association.

Scotland, R.W. & J.R.I. Wood. 2012 Accelerating the pace of taxonomy. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27(8): 415-416. 

Daniel P. Bebber, Mark A. Carine, Gerrit Davidse, David J. Harris,Elspeth M. Haston, Malcolm G. Penn, Steve Cafferty, John R.I. Wood & Robert W. Scotland. 2012. Big hitting collectors make massive and disproportionate contribution to the discovery of plant species. Proc. R. Soc. B. 279: 2269-2274. See discussion and commentary in:
Whitfield, J.A. 2012. Superstars of botany: rare specimens. Nature: 484: 436–438.
Science Careers, Elizabeth Pain

Scotland, R.W. 2011. What is parallelism? Evolution and Development 13(2): 214-227

Bebber, D.P. Carine, M.A.Wood, J.R.I. Wortley, A.H. Harris, D.J. Prance, G.T. Davidse, G. Paige, J. Pennington, T.D. Robson, N.K.B. and Scotland, R.W 2010. Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery. PNAS. 107 (51): 22169-22171  (see commentaries in Nature 2010: 468: 870 and Current Biology 2011 vol 21(1): R6-7).