History and Role of the Association

The role of the Systematics Association is to represent and further all aspects of Systematic biology. The Association organises a Biennial conference and a Young Systematists’ forum, to bring up-and-coming, as well as established systematists, together; it also funds special symposia. Since its genesis, it has continued to publish special volumes and, presently, in association with the Linnean Society, it supports systematics through the Systematics Research Fund.

The Systematics Association was founded in May 1937 as the “Committee on Systematics in Relation to General Biology” with Sir Julian Huxley as its first president. Its aim was to provide a forum for the discussion of the general theoretical and practical problems of taxonomy. The inaugural meeting was held at The Linnean Society of London on Friday, June 25th, and was attended by seventy-four biologists. An outline of the original objectives of the Association was published in Nature 140:163-164 (1937).

The first of the Association’s publications, “The New Systematics”, was edited by the late Sir Julian Huxley and focused on new data from cytogenetics, ecology and several other fields. Since then, the Association has pioneered discussion on the many new developments in systematics: over 50 Special Volumes have been published, focusing on groups as diverse as haptophyte algae, tetrapods, lichens, free-living flagellates and haematophagous insects. Other volumes have explored fields such as phylogenetic reconstruction, systematics and conservation, genome evolution and the emergence of the biosphere. The Association also publishes books derived from training courses and on general aspects of systematics.