The historical fact of evolution, as common descent with modification for life on earth, and the concepts used to study evolutionary change in living systems, provide the unifying theme for all biological knowledge. This is aptly summarized in Dobzhansky's statement that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." The corollary that nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of phylogeny is broadly recognized as well.
SSB affirms that evolutionary biology is a fundamental and necessary component of an excellent science education. SSB strongly supports the teaching of evolution and teaching about the process of science in classrooms, museums, and science centers. Modern research in global environmental change, agriculture, medicine, and the spread and control of disease all depend on understanding evolutionary concepts. Thus, understanding biological systems, their evolutionary history and their mechanisms of change is crucial to human health and well-being. Awareness of current views concerning evolutionary biology, including natural selection, is an essential part of modern cultural and scientific literacy for all citizens. Excellence in education requires that teachers and students continually evaluate scientific ideas in light of evidence; however, learning and inquiry are inhibited when educators feel pressured to alter their teaching of fundamental concepts of science in response to demands external to the scientific disciplines.
Systematic biology is the scientific study of the diversity of organisms and of any and all relationships among them.
Concerns of systematic biologists include:
-phylogenetic analysis to produce or test hypotheses of genealogical relationship among groups of organisms, and using those hypotheses to:
-discover patterns of structural, developmental, or molecular evolution;
-learn about processes that underlie the origin and maintenance of taxonomic diversity;
-conduct studies of biogeographical, co-evolutionary, and paleobiological patterns to learn about the diversification, distribution, and extinction of taxa;
-learn about the tempo and mode of evolutionary change;
-conduct studies leading to improved classifications, better methods of taxonomic identification and nomenclatural reform.
SSB is dedicated to the advancement of the science of systematic biology in all aspects of theory and practice, for all living and extinct organisms. In its journal, Systematic Biology
, the society publishes original contributions regarding the theory, principles, and methods of systematics as well as evolution, morphology, biogeography, paleontology, genetics, and classification.
SSB encourages its members to stay informed about local science education issues and to promote rigorous and comprehensive teaching in the sciences, including evolutionary biology, for students at all levels.
SSB and its journal Systematic Biology
are on the web at http://systbiol.org