Cladistics and "Eclecticism"

Thomas DiBenedetto tdib at OCEANCONSERVANCY.ORG
Fri Feb 8 10:34:03 CST 2002

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Wendt
We spent a lot of time trying to define and understand species on
biological (including ecological) grounds, and on trying to understand the
variations in how species are organized.  Species were (are) a very real
thing to us.  Higher levels were based on relationships (internal and
external), but species were based on their intrinsic qualities;
What are the intrinsic qualities of a species? I can understand the
intrinsic qualities of organisms, and I can understand the relationships of
inheritence that result in particular distributions of characters, and that
bind organisms into a lineage, but what are the qualities that exist at the
species level to which you refer?
However, the sudden symbiosis between molecular
systematics and cladistics led to a very new way of working.
This is totally wrong. It has nothing to do with molecular systematics. I
learned my cladistics before the rise of molecular systematics, and though
my views have (I hope) grown and developed, I have not adopted a totally new
way of thinking. The notion of species as taxa i.e. species defined in
relationship to their place in an overall classification of nature is the
_original_ conception of species. That is why we use the words "species" and
"genus" - the specific instances and the general categories in an overall
system.  Ecological, biological and evolutionary studies of species can
broaden our understanding of the taxa that systematists discover
 to you (and me), the species is real; to Tom DiB., it is a relationship.
For me, species, as well as higher taxa, are real - their reality is a
function of the relationships of inheritence between the organisms that are
parts of the taxon. What kind of reality are you referrring to?

Tom DiBenedetto

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