As Cladistics and "Eclecticism", Aves, paraphyly flow on

Dave Walter D.Walter at MAILBOX.UQ.EDU.AU
Tue Feb 5 09:14:46 CST 2002

>>...Cladograms represent testable hypotheses and have provided great
>>insight into the evolutionary history of the Acari, but I know that even
>>the best cladogram is not the ultimate truth.
>>So does everyone else

Ah, if that were only true, and we all viewed our hypotheses as best
guesses derived from the data available using a less than perfect
technique.  Probably wouldn't get them past the referees if we took that
point of view, but it would be nice.

>More importantly, it is becoming increasingly obvious that reticulate
>evolution is important in many, if not most, sexual groups.
>I don't know that this is "increasingly obvious" - I sense that it has been
>known all along. "Strict cladists" have been publishing their thoughts on
>reticulation for decades - once agian, what are your specific objections to
>their points?
>Tom DiBenedetto

Presumably these enlightened cladists were botanists?  The cladistic
zoologists I've asked ranged in response from 'any reticulations are
ephemeral and unimportant' to 'it's only a problem in plants' to 'yeah,
it's a worry, but not in my group'.  I'd appreciation citations to a clear
and insightful paper on the problem of reticulations to cladistic
analysis.  My 1st year students would appreciate it - they've hardly
swallowed the jargon of cladistics and the concept of monophyly before I
have to hit them with allo- and autopolyploidy.  Every now and then, one of
them seems to get the contradiction.

Cheers from Oz,

Dave Walter

Dr David Evans Walter
Senior Lecturer & Coordinator for Entomology Flexible Learning
Department of Zoology & Entomology
Project Leader, Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Plant Protection
The University of Queensland, St. Lucia Campus,
Brisbane, Queensland 4072 Australia
Tele. (61)(7) 3365-1564; Fax (61)(7) 3365-1922
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Email =  D.Walter at

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