(Fwd) Re: ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Tue May 20 08:37:53 CDT 1997

At 02:00 PM 05-20-97 GMT+2, Dr. Nigel Barker wrote:
>I agree with Thomas's first couple of points... it is systematics,
>and the need to know "WATSI" is a strong driving force... but I would
>like to know how one is going to produce a "workable classification
>system" (by which I am, possibly erroniously, assuming means
>"predictive") without adopting the principles of parsimony and all it
>I realise  this is a bit of a diversion off the initial thread,
>but it did pique my interest. Obviously, I find myself rooted in (one
>of) the  schools of cladistic methodology (about which one can argue
>ad nauseum, and TAXACOM  is probably not the forum for this), but
>would like to hear/read  various thoughts about what a "working
>classification" is... see, I have just had to lecture this to
>2nd year Botany students... maybe I can scrounge a few more ideas!

I meant that, realizing systematics to be an unending synthesis, a dynamic
on-going process, I am willing to accept a less-than-perfect First
Approximation of a classification.  Make sure that taxa are circumscribed
sensibly, that everything has a name and is pidgeon-holed in at least a
phenetic seat-of-the-pants intuitive subjective fashion.  You might think we
have this already, but for entomology and botany, we do NOT.   Once a
useable First Approximation is available, then we can afford the luxury of
qubbling over whether this branch has a 90% bootstrap support or 80%
bootstrap support, or whether nuclear genes are superior to plastid genes,
or whether this Article of the Code truly makes this name illegitimate.

In a nutshell, we need to be more serious in analyzing cost-vs,-benefit.
Time and  resources are limited.  How much to spend on a project for what we
gain in new knowledge?

Thomas G. Lammers

Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.

Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:     lammers at fmppr.fmnh.org
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317

"The true test of intelligence is not how much we know how to do,
   but how we behave when we don't know what to do."

                                                  -- John Holt

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