FW: Fungi and Four Kingdoms

Elizabeth Frieders frieders at UWPLATT.EDU
Wed Oct 6 19:42:38 CDT 1999

> But I guess anyone who describes themselves as a "radical
> revolutionary", probably looks favorably on instability and
> rapid change rather a relatively boring "middle ground".
> but I guess radicals often want
> to tear down things and let others deal with the aftermath.  The responsible
> revolutionary has no need to be radical.
>                     ------------Ken Kinman

Radical, as defined by Webster's, means:
fundamental, extreme, thorough-going; a person who favors rapid and
sweeping change.

So by your above statement, then, a "responsible revolutionary" is one who
is not radical, hence not thorough, fundamental, or rapid??
I chose the word radical because my views are not mainstream, rather are on
the extreme. Yes, I believe that change should be rapid, because to draw out
change over a long time period means that it might not occur (rapid meaning
to be instituted rapidly; not rapid in the sense that it is thought up
overnight and instituted without being well-thought out or discussed).
"Radical revolutionary" should not be synonymized with terrorist.

I don't know of any systematists  who are in favor of instability. Any
proposal for a revised or alternative classification system should be
stable, or what's the point. I may be naive in thinking this, but don't most
biologists publish ideas with the goal that they be implemented? This is
true in my case, and ought to be true for other systematists as well.  So
for you to say that I and other radicals simply want to tear things down and
leave a big mess is very narrow minded and accusatory on your part.

I do admit that I am unfamiliar with your proposed ideas and should not have
been so hasty to disregard them (please note that the same should apply to
you). As for my views, they are in the development stages. If they were
completely formulated to my own satisfaction, I would have published them
already. A small glimpse at the direction I am headed can be read in:

Swann, Frieders and McLaughlin. 1999. Microbotryum, Kriegeria and the
changing paradigm in basidiomycete classification. Mycologia 91: 51-66.

(If you do look at this article, please remember that the ranks defined in
this paper follow the classics simply because no alternative has been
widely accepted, so if we didn't name the clades, someone else would have.)

My opinions:
Classification should reflect phylogeny, as was its original intent. That
means monophyletic groups.
Hierarchical relationships exist in nature, but the classic ranks
(especially those above genus) do not adequately express their levels of
complexity. There are not a certain number of preset ranked relationships
within each major group of organisms (whether they are called Domains or
Kingdoms or ...), so why should there be a preset number of ranks? Yes, with
supra-this and sub-that we have been able to create additional ranks to
accomodate the hierarchical relationships that have developed as further
study into groups occurs, but there are (or ought to be) limits. It also
becomes difficult to decide where the line should be drawn -- is this a
subclass or an order? Subgenera or different genera? And does it really
matter?  No, because we are simply giving a group a name and defining it so
that others have a clue. As far as I am concerned, I don't care what the
name of the clade is or if there are official nomenclatural rules as to an
appropriate suffix, as long as the clade is clearly defined.  This also
allows for changes or additions to clade relationships without the necessity
of formally changing the name of a clade.
Defining the clade, especially in fungi, is becoming more difficult if not
impossible with the standard morphological criteria: because either there
are no uniform characters for all clade members (as is the case in our paper
above) or perhaps because the taxa included within a clade is in flux (as
exemplified by many groups of fungi). Therefore, in the article mentioned
above, we have used the definition of a clade as all descendants of their
most recent common ancestor (as per de Queiroz and Gauthier's nodal
Clades should be validly published (= adequately defined, clearly stated in
a widely used language, supported with evidence, and in a format that is
accessible by most). IMO, the use of Latin is just plain ridiculous since
few can read or write it, so why is it still required?

I don't have all the answers. I know that after working in systematics for
several years I have been confronted with a lot of problems for which
solutions don't exist. I also think that continuing to use a system which
clearly was not designed for an infinite number of ranks, or with cladistics
in mind, may not be the answer either, modified though it may be.

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