Three areas of systematics

Nancy Cowden ncowden at RMWC.EDU
Fri Feb 20 14:05:59 CST 1998

  As usual I find myself heartily agreeing with Harvey Ballard's
eloquent statements, this time about the interrelationships among
taxonomy, phylogentic classification, and evolutionary inference.  They
are all aspects of systematics, and lets face it, no matter in which
sub-camp of systematics we find our personal allegiances, we each make
use of information coming out of the other areas (at least I hope we all
do).  That there are disagreements among classification methods should
come as no surprise: different methods yield different results.  It's
what we then do with those contrasting views that, to me, is the real
substance of systematics.  To view the construction of a phylogenetic
classification as somehow more significant or valid than a good old
classical taxonomy study is patently absurd as is any other, similar
  When all is said and done, we are striving to correctly decipher
evolutionary relationships (at whatever level) and understand the real
wonder of biological change.  And if all else fails, remember that the
organisms we study have never bothered to read the volumes of taxonomic
(in the broad sense) rules we construct for them.

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