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Evolution and Classification of Ferns and Lycophytes

  • Emily B. SessaEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

The last several decades have seen a transformation in our understanding of the evolutionary history of ferns and lycophytes. Historically the plants belonging to these lineages were grouped together and referred to as “pteridophytes” or “ferns and fern allies.” These terms both describe what we now recognize to be non-monophyletic assemblages, and both reflect a lack of understanding of the relationships of ferns and lycophytes that was only dispelled in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thanks to the emergence of molecular systematics and the efforts of researchers in the fern and lycophyte community, we now have well-sampled and highly resolved phylogenies that include all tracheophytes, including substantial numbers of ferns and lycophytes. These trees have generated numerous insights about the evolutionary history of all land plants and have clarified the relationships between major groups of tracheophytes and vastly improved our understanding of fern and lycophyte evolution. This chapter reviews the major lineages, diversification events, and transitions in fern and lycophyte evolution and summarizes our current understanding of fern and lycophyte classification based on a modern, community-derived classification system that was recently produced for all 11,916 extant species of ferns and lycophytes.

Keywords

Classification Divergence Diversification Evolution Fern Lycophyte Phylogeny Systematics Taxonomy 

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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