SYSTEMATICS SOLVESPROBLEMS IN AGRICULTUREAND FORESTRY'Amy Y. Rossman2 andDouglass R. Miller2ABSTRACT In forest and agricultural ecosystems the conspicuous elements, namely the trees, crop plants, and farm animais,form complex interactions with many less conspicuous organisms. These less conspicuous but specious organisms suchas insects, fungi, nematodes, and bacteria can be beneficial, even essential, or they can be utterly devastating causingbillions of dollars damage. Our present knowledge of the systematics of these less conspicuous organisms is limited.For some groups even the most elemental systematic understanding-an inventory, a checklist, a means of identifica-tion-is lacking. This paper presents examples in which systematics has contributed to solving a problem in agricultureand forestry. Our current agricultural practices reflect the systematic understanding of pest organisms that influencecrop productivity. The success of efforts to discover and develop biological agents that control agricultural pests andpathogens depends on systematics. International exchange of agricultural commmodities can be enhanced or hinderedby accurate or inaccurate systematic knowledge as exemplified by the recently opened market for California wheat tothe People's Republic of China. Systematics is essential in directing the collection, organization, and use of vascularplant germplasm as for breeding improved crops. Forests in eastern North America have been devastated by theintroduction of exotic pests and pathogens. Systematic knowledge helps to prevent such introductions. In Australianative forests threatened with extinction from an introduced weed were saved by the biological control of that weedusing a fungus. Detailed systematic knowledge of both the host and pathogen allowed the safe and effective introductionof this biocontrol agent. In all the examples detailed in this paper, basic systematic knowledge was essential to solvingimportant problems in agriculture and forestry. Trees, crop plants, and farm animals are the mostconspicuous elements in forest and agriculturalecosystems, yet these organisms have complex in-teractions with many less conspicuous organisms.The myriad of insects, fungi, nematodes, and bac-teria that are part of these ecosystems can be ben-eficial, even essential, to the development of thecrop, or can be utterly devastating causing billionsof dollars damage. At present our knowledge of thesystematics of these less conspicuous organisms isgrossly limited-so limited that we often do nothave even an elemental systematic understandingof their existence-an inventory, a checklist, ameans of identification. These are the ecosystemsupon which humanity depends for survival. Within forestry and agriculture there is an in-creased interest in holistic approaches to managingthe biological resources on which these industriesdepend. Such management strategies must allowthe exploitation of biological resources to providethe immediate needs of food and fiber, but alsomust accommodate management approaches thatminimize the impact on the environment and en-sure long-term use of these resources. Such strat-egies include sustainable agriculture, the biologicalcontrol of pest organisms, integrated pest manage-ment, and the management of forests for productsother than lumber. Systematic information is thekey ingredient in developing these strategies; withadequate systematic knowledge these initiativescan be successful. This paper presents examples of problems in ag-riculture and forestry that have been solved by ap-plying a systematic understanding of the organismsinvolved. In some cases the result was to solveshort-term problems with short-term economic gain,for example, in increased international trade, whilein other cases the result has been incalculable,long-term benefit, such as in the biological controlof an exotic weed that was threatening to destroyan entire ecosystem. In ail cases basic systematicknowledge was essential to solving the problem.AGRICULTUREAGRICULTURAL PRACTICES REFLECT THE SYSTEMATICUNDERSTANDING OF PEST ORGANISMS Agricultural practices of previous centuries in-cluded empirically integrated management of crop 1 We thank the following systematists who contributed ideas and information to this paper: Marc Cubeta, NorthCarolina State University, Plymouth, North Carolina; Harry Evans, International Institute of Biocontrol, Silwood, En-gland; and David Spooner, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Vegetable Crops Research Unit, Madison, Wisconsin. 2 USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory, Systematic Entomology Labo-ratory, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, U.S.A. ANN. MISSOURI BOT. GARD. 83: 17-28. 1996.