Parsimony arguments

ROGER HYAM R.Hyam at RBGE.ORG.UK
Mon Oct 21 10:54:28 CDT 1996


Folks,

Haven't we been here before? If nothing else it is a pain to wade
through detailed argument about the pro's and con's of how to
contructing or not construct phylogenies whilst looking for a job
ad. Couldn't we just all go and read back issues of the journal
Cladistics! (This paragraph contains satire - which apparently
doesn't work well on e-mail).

Has anyone any suggestions as to what we should use as terminal taxa
in our analysis? All these arguments are based on the fact that some
one has come along and produced a nice alpha taxonomy of the study
group first.

My understanding of the problems in taxonomy are that the only way
to carry out an alpha taxonomy is to spend some time getting it all
in your head, do a bit of specimen shuffling, see them in the field
and then write it all down. If you get time you can do a
phylogenetic analysis of it as well (once everything is in nice
little boxes that you can use as terminals). The problem is that for
larger groups it may take longer than 3 years to get it all in your
head. As it is rare for research grants to last for even three and a
half years the larger groups just aren't going to be studied and the
majority of "species" are in larger groups.

What are we going to do about this?

Roger




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