The American Society of Plant Taxonomists fully endorses the use of evolution in the scholarship of its members and supports teaching this theory in schools, colleges and universities. Evolution includes both statements of fact and evidence to support these statements. Evolution has been variously defined as changes in gene frequencies over time, descent with modification and the existence of a common ancestor from which all life descends. Much of the evidence for these definitions is found in the universality of the genetic code, homologous structures within groups of related taxa, and the fossil record.
As scholars, many members of ASPT study evolution in order to shed light on how the evolutionary process works. Others use the scientific basis of evolution to define historical relationships among taxa, to understand how certain characters have evolved within a group of taxa, and to study coevolutionary relationships such as those between plants and their pollinators or plants and seed dispersers. As educators, we believe that evolution is an essential component of science education. In the absence of an evolutionary context, our understanding of the origin and complexity of the earth’s biodiversity and our ability to realize critical advances in medicine and agriculture would not be possible. Acknowledging our obligations as scientists and educators, we join the many other scientific societies that have endorsed the role of evolution as a unifying principle both in scientific scholarship and science curricula at all educational levels.