Three things I always wanted to know

Pierre Deleporte Pierre.Deleporte at UNIV-RENNES1.FR
Fri Feb 20 17:12:22 CST 1998

>Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 17:08:52 +0100
>To: Thomas Schlemmermeyer <termites at USP.BR>
>From: Pierre Deleporte <Pierre.Deleporte at>
>Subject: Re: Three things I always wanted to know
>In-Reply-To: <Pine.SOL.3.91.980220125801.22022A-100000 at swan2>
>References: <9802201443.AA11982 at>
>>        Question Number 3: (...)
>>        The times they are a-changin'. Will systematists in the future
>>        still work with monophyletic groups or is it already visible that
>>        the concept will be outdated?
>If we take "monophyly" in its evolutionary sense, working with
monophyletic groups means that your classification is a tentative
reconstruction of the phylogeny.
>"Good classifications" should suit your purposes.
>To my sense, the present rather large consensus for using phylogeny as the
systematic system has two principal reasons:
>       phylogeny is a directly useful reference for comparative/evolutionary
biology, and this is a growing point in biology
>       the hierarchical phylogenetic system is not unpracticable for
identification or classificatory purposes (constituting banks of specimens
and data, and retrieving them...).
>This double interest of phylogenetic systematics may be viewed as a good
compromise for different purposes.
>       It has been repeatedly objected that phylogeny is not stable
(fortunately! see Dominguez and Wheeler, Cladistics 13-4). But only a
purely arbitrary system could be stable. And it would have no biological
>       If you feel that systematics must make sense in biology (i.e. involve
some "natural system"), and that the field of comparative/evolutionary
biology is an important concern for systematics, then monophyly/phylogeny
has a promising future. This is my point of view.
>- Besides this (your second message), I see no particular problem with
molecules,  and never defined "cladists" as people unconcerned with biology
or molecules...
>Could you define "biosystematists"? -
>       If you feel that a purely formal classificatory logic of some kind should
rule systematics, or that some notion of overall similarity (which has
proved both unstable and lacking general biological meaning) is desireable,
go on an try to convince your colleagues. If you succeed, anyway I will
still need a phylogeny for my own (narrow-minded?) purposes in comparative
biology. Please publish your data matrix, at least!
>There stops my ability to depict you the possible future of systematics

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