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Best Paper in Systematics – 2020 Richard & Minnie Windler Award

Micranthes careyana

The Richard and Minnie Windler Award recognizes the authors of the best systematics and ecology papers published in Castanea during the previous year.

The 2020 Richard and Minnie Windler Award for Best Paper in Systematics goes to Max Lanning and Kathy Mathews for “Taxonomy, Distribution, and Lectotypification of Two Rare, Southern Appalachian Saxifrages, Micranthes careyana and M. caroliniana” (Castanea 84[1]:93–108)

Katherine G. Mathews, Ph.D.

Professor and Director of WCU Herbarium
Department of Biology
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Max Lanning

Biology Instructor,
Southwestern Community College
Bryson City, NC

Biology Teacher,
Swain County Highschool

Carey’s saxifrage (Micranthes careyana) and Carolina saxifrage (M. caroliniana) are two globally vulnerable Southern Appalachian endemic herbs. Due to ecological and morphological similarity, differentiating these species has been historically difficult.

In 2008 and 2009, Masters student Max Lanning investigated the boundary separating these species using both morphometrics and molecular phylogenetics with dense sampling of populations throughout these species’ ranges. Results indicated that these species were distinct at the molecular and morphological levels, with two key floral characters consistently distinguishing them: sepal position at anthesis and filament shape. Further work with herbarium specimens clarified that their ranges are mostly distinct, overlapping in only one county of northwestern NC. A revised key and table of diagnostic characters of these two species as well as the vegetatively similar M. virginiensis were presented. Additionally, the authors designated the lectotypes of M. careyana and M. caroliniana.

Max has gone on to a career in teaching biology at Swain County Highschool and Southwestern community college in Bryson City, North Carolina.

Micranthes careyana
Micranthes careyana courtesy Katherine Matthews
SABS Members and Castanea subscribers may read the full paper here.