Whooper; Canadian geese split; paraphyly.

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at UWOSH.EDU
Wed Nov 17 10:15:00 CST 2004

At 08:38 AM 11/17/2004, Peter Stevens wrote:

 >>We go on maundering about monophyly and paraphyly, but if you read the
papers, we have an absolutely facscinating evolutionary story to talk about
to introductory biology students - which I do.<<

That to me is the saddest thing about cladistic methods for inferring
evolutionary history: they seem so divorced from the population level
phenomena that we know drive speciation.  To someone who learned about
evolution from people like Verne Grant and Ledyard Stebbins and Clausen et
al., to anyone versed in population genetics, cladistics seems to relate to
a whole 'other planet.  It seems to have little relevance to the actual
process, or at best to be a horridly imperfect and limited reflection of it.

When someone can construct a cladistic algorithm that is consistent with
our knowledge of population genetics, natural selection, reproductive
isolation, etc., THAT will be one big paradigm shift.  THAT will a major
contribution to science.  Until then, it's largely an exercise in futility:
pretty patterns largely detached from any objective reality.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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