DANGER: PhyloCode : solution
redeuilh at CLUB-INTERNET.FR
Fri Mar 8 05:28:21 CST 2002
Seen the (very interesting !) past discussions about phylogenetics and Phylocode, I have now my own philosophy on this topic.
As a "strict non cladist", traditional systematician in mycology and nomenclaturist, I'm not worried by the Phylocode.
First, only one +/- heretical idea is needed as a postulate :
- Systematical and phylogenical classifications have different goals, athough some of them being convergent :
. Phylogenetics need accurate data in phylogeny matter. That's all. Is a (nearly) neutral tool.
. Systematics is a few more an human tool : is the true general interface between the man an the biological nature.
To play this role, systematics need :
1 - Relative stability
2 - Good accessibility for users (scientifics, naturalists ss. lato, teaching, edition, general public) : it is mainly a tool of communication.
(These qualities have not directly to do with phylogeny)
3 - To be a representative picture of the big tree of the biological life : to be phylogenically "credible" (but no need for perfection).
(Note that at the begining linnean systematics was not phylogenical at all, although efficient !)
Functions 1 + 2 are essential : when they are threatened, function 3 (exact phylogeny) can be more approximative.
(and we know that perfect exactness is a myth in phylogeny)
If we admit that, then the conclusion is easy :
- Traditional linnean systematics fits exactly the 3 functions above. Strict phylogenic systematic fits function 3 only.
And we observe :
. Strict phylogenic (cladistical) systematic cannot strictly be superposed on the linnean systematic, it would results unworkable and don't respect function 1 and 2.
. Strict phylogenic (cladistical) systematic using the Phylocode : idem (as far as Phylocode is workable !).
. Intermediary system, as the valuable Kinman system, don't enough respect function 2.
In short :
- Systematics and phylogenetics are siter but different and not superposables sciences. When I search a phylogenic information, I refer to cladistical sudies. When I search a descriptive information, I refer to systematical-taxonomical studies.
- Linnean systematics is a scientific and (+/-) human construction. Phylogenical (cladistical) systematics is a scientific and very lightly human construction.
- Phylogenical exactness is important but not the sine qua non need for an efficient systematics.
- Traditional linnean system remains the best for an efficient systematics.
- Phylogenetical data are very important informations for linnean systematicians, they can be introduced in linnean systematics as far as possible, but certainly not in totality (various colleagues said here they have no problem to admit some paraphyletical or polyphyletical taxa in their systematics).
- As experimental science, phylogenetics has its own approximations.
- Phylocode is obviously a tool for strict cladists only, totally unworkable for linnean systematicians. These have nothing to do with it, but encourage phylogenetician to improve it.
worker at home in the "douce France"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ken Kinman" <kinman at HOTMAIL.COM>
To: <TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG>
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 3:49 PM
Subject: DANGER: PhyloCode
> Dear All,
> I have previously said that PhyloCode is probably coming, like it or
> not, and I thought it prudent to make suggestions on making it minimally
> disruptive and maximally useful. However, what I have recently learned has
> changed all that.
> PhyloCode is a clear and present danger to the stability of
> nomenclature, and it should be resisted at every opportunity. The authors
> of PhyloCode certainly have good intentions, but what some strict cladists
> are now doing with it speaks volumes about the repercussions that will
> inevitably follow (perhaps far worse than even Benton imagined).
> In the recently published "Ostrom" Proceedings (of a conference held at
> Yale), the first two chapters discuss various proposed new clade names for
> theropods and their transition into birds. The most alarming are
> apomorphy-based taxa, based on different types of feathers:
> How serious scientists could even conceive of such clade names is
> baffling. But that is just the beginning of the list of proposed clade
> names: Panaves, Metatheropoda, Aptilonia, Eoptilonia, Dromavialae,
> Chuniaoia, Aerialae, Orthornithes, and so on. How many of these would end
> up as rejects, like Ornithosuchia (which was found to exclude
> Ornithosuchus), or Ornithodira (which may well be polyphyletic).
> Thomas Holtz' clade Arctometatarsalia has been found to be based on a
> convergent functional character, and Holtz also recently conceded that his
> Bullatosauria appears to be based on convergence in a skull structure.
> Other "tarsal" clades are suspicious, like Crocodylotarsi, and who knows if
> Ornithotarsi and Avemetatarsalia will survive future cladistic scrutiny. If
> "enigmosauria" is polyphyletic, as I believe it is, hopefully my "not
> strictly parsimonious" approach has detected it before it was formally named
> and cladistically defined. Strict parsimony seems to have been the problem
> in that case, and certainly not the "panacea" that strict cladists make it
> out to be.
> Anyway, it is becoming increasingly clear that the strictly cladistic
> approach (and PhyloCode in particular) is a nomenclatural house of cards,
> and the inflationary pressure to name perceived clades is already spirally
> out of control in theropod systematics. PhyloCode will merely provide a
> bureaucratic mantle which will undoubtedly encourage workers to prematurely
> name large numbers of new "clades", and the dinosaurs alone will hopelessly
> clog the nomenclatural system in red tape.
> I cannot in good conscience condone this kind of activity, and I will
> not sit passively and watch such a disaster unfold. I am henceforth
> actively opposing any implementation of a PhyloCode, and I will no longer
> make any suggestions for its improvement, in the vain hope that it might
> mitigate some of the harmful effects.
> I would encourage others to resist PhyloCode (at least the bloated
> bureaucratic formulation that is presently being offered) and to resist the
> wholesale creation of new clade names that is clearly a threat to our
> nomenclatural system. I find these latest developments deeply disturbing.
> ----- Sincerely, Ken Kinman
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