FW: Fungi and Four Kingdoms

Eric Zurcher ericz at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Thu Oct 7 14:30:07 CDT 1999

At 19:42 6/10/99 -0500, Elizabeth Frieders wrote:

>My opinions:
>Classification should reflect phylogeny, as was its original intent. That
>means monophyletic groups.

If I may be pedantic - I must take issue with your comment that the
"original intent" of classification was to reflect phylogeny.
Classification, of course, goes "way back" - it seems to be part of human
mental processes to classify things, and certainly people were classifying
organisms long before there was any inkling that there were genealogical
relationships among them. Personally, I still don't regard it as a
postulate that biological classification must reflect ONLY phylogeny. A
classification system which considers only the pattern of branching, but
totally disregards the lengths of the branches, seems to be rather
arbitrarily discarding useful information. (But then my training was in
ecology, not taxonomy, so my perspective on the reasons for and uses of a
classification scheme may be slightly different from yours.)

I also have a question for Elizabeth about one point regarding fungi. Is
there any clue, given our current state of knowledge, of the extent to
which evolution of the fungi is or is not reticulate? As chance would have
it, I have worked fairly closely with grass taxonomists and viral
taxonomists, and these groups (of organisms, not of taxonomists) both show
a substantial amount of reticulation. This certainly complicates matters in
a system which absolutely requires that taxonomic groups be monophyletic. I
see this a big problem with the cladistic approach, but one that most
cladists just seem to ignore or pretend is too insignificant or rare to
bother with.


Eric Zurcher
CSIRO Division of Entomology
Canberra, Australia
E-mail: ericz at ento.csiro.au

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