Status of plant systematics

Warren Frank Lamboy wfl1 at NYSAES.CORNELL.EDU
Mon Sep 8 10:48:15 CDT 1997

Modesty forbids my mentioning two papers relevant to this thread, namely:

"The accuracy of the maximum parsimony method for phylogeny reconstruction
with morphological characters." Syst. Bot. 19:  489-505.  1994.

"Morphological characters, polytomies, and homoplasy indices:  response to
Wiens and Hillis."  Syst. Bot. 21:  243-253.  1996.

-  Warren

At 10:25 AM 9/8/97 EDT, you wrote:
>The paper I had most particularly in mind (Huelsenbeck 1991, I believe)
>involves the generation of known (hence true) trees, and attempts to
>reconstruct those true trees using standard cladistic method.  Given a
>skewed distribution of tree lengths, it was usually the case that the
>true tree was in the tail of the distribution near the shortest tree.
>As Richard Zander emphasizes, the true tree is usually NOT the shortest
>tree.  Thus, I think it is inappropriate to propose a formal revision
>of some group's classification merely on the basis of having found one
>or more shortest trees that differ from conventional wisdom!  Students
>at meetings who won't be drawn into defending their results as correct
>have the right idea.  On the other hand, I think that looking for the
>shortest tree is useful.  Cladograms have certainly made me think hard
>about systematic problems concerning some plants I've studied.
>        Una Smith
>   author =  {John P. Huelsenbeck},
>   title =   {Tree-length distribution skewness:
>             an indicator of phylogenetic information},
>   journal = {Systematic Zoology},
>   volume =  40,
>   pages =   {257--270},
>   year =    1991,
>   comment = {phylogeny reconstruction},
Warren Frank Lamboy
Senior Research Associate, Cornell University
USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit
Geneva, New York  14456-0462
wfl1 at
VOX:    315-787-2359
FAX:    315-787-2339

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