Phenetics and Cladistics

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at TFM.FMNH.ORG
Thu Oct 3 11:21:00 CDT 1996

An important point to bear in mind re: the utility of these two approaches
is the QUESTION being asked.  If I have a large number of specimens that
appear to represent a single (perhaps polymorphic) species or a close-knit
group of species (a superspecies if you will), and I ask the question:
are there morphologically distinguishable clusters of specimens/individuals/
populations that can be recognized?  -- then I would adopt a phenetic
approach -- cluster analysis, PCA, etc.  If I have a number of species/genera/
families etc. and I ask the question, what have been the patterns of
evolutionary diversification among them, then of course cladistic methods,
parsimony or otherwise, are appropriate.

Both approaches have utility and scientific validity, depending on the
questions being posed.

Thomas G. Lammers               lammers at
Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago, IL 60605-2496 USA

        "This whole genus [Lobelia] would richly reward any botanist
         for an analytical investigation."
                                                John Lindley, 1826

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