FWD>RE>Phylogeny continued

Warren Lamboy warren_lamboy at QMRELAY.MAIL.CORNELL.EDU
Wed Aug 2 15:04:24 CDT 1995

Mail*Link(r) SMTP               FWD>RE>Phylogeny continued

Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell writes:

Date: 28/07/1995 19:34
From: Gjwc at aol.com
so then, Mr. Lamboy, how do we make phylogenetic systematics better?  How do
we improve ourselves from what you view as being false and empty?  What's
your answer to this problem about which you are clearly passionate?


Gregory J. WAtkins-Colwell
155 Booth St.
Stratford, CT  06497

Warren responds:

Dear Gregory:

    I am delighted you have asked the question of how we can make phylogenetic
systematics better.  I think that phylogenies would be improved if they were
constructed from all the data available to the expert(s) in the group
(including information from cladistic and phenetic analyses as well as other
statistical methods), AFTER these workers have examined most of the available
specimens in museum or herbarium collections, have observed the taxa in their
native habitats, have considered ecological, physiological, anatomical,
biochemical, behavioral, macromolecular, geographical, chromosomal, etc.,
characteristics, have examined type specimens, read the literature [including
nomenclature] (present AND past) about the group, and have mentally and
subjectively integrated all of that information into a coherent classification
that was consciously constructed so that it would be useful to educated laymen
and interested amateurs.  A classification and estimated phylogeny so
constructed is "infinity" more valuable to me than one that is devised from
the sequencing of a few genes by someone who may not even know what the
organisms look like.  Yes, such a classification/phylogeny will take a long
time to produce; I view it as the culmination of a life's work.  No, one will
not be able to construct one as one's disseration topic.  Yes, such a
classification will be subjective to a greater or lesser degree.  No, I am not
disturbed by that--rather the fact that such a classification benefitted from
the marvelous integretive capacity of a colleague's mind is its strength.
Since many posters to this thread seem not to be disturbed by the inherent
uncertainty in the phylogenies produced mechanically, they certainly could
have no objection to the uncertainty that might creep in to a
phylogeny/classification constructed as I have outlined above.  I think that
good systematics is partly science (objective) and partly art (subjective).
Systematics has been damaged considerably, I think, by the refusal of many of
its practioners to recognize this.


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