The September webinar of the Southern African Society for Systematic Biology on 2 September had as guest speaker Dr Isabel Sanmartin, a senior scientist at the Royal Botanical Garden, CSIC in Madrid, Spain who presented a talk “The Rand flora revisited: New approaches for bridging the micro and macroevolutionary levels in biogeography and evolution”. She used a ‘continental floristic  riddle’, the Rand Flora, where sister-taxa at various taxonomic levels (populations, species, clades) occur on opposite sides of the African continent as an example to show how advances in the fields of statistical phylogenetics and machine learning, integrated with Next Generation Sequencing molecular techniques and external sources of evidence (e.g., paleoclimatic reconstructions, ecological traits) allow researchers to explore patterns and processes of biotic assembly at different spatio-temporal scales, from extinction and adaptation of species to climate change to population decline and demographic expansion in more recent times.

The first local presenter was Joanne Bentley of the African Climate Development Initiative (ACDI), at the University of Cape Town whose presentation was titled “Lineage origin, historical migration patterns, and the contributions of geographic proximity and ecological filtering to dispersal in an African-centred paper daisy lineage”. The second local speaker was Seth Musker from the University of Bayreuth in Germany and who is linked with the University of Cape Town. His presentation “The genomics of dynamic diversification on a continental archipelago: The case of Erica abietina from the Cape floristic region: Or ‘What to call the things that I’m calling things’” closed the month’s webinar.