Question about adherence to holophyly for nomenclature

Curtis Clark jcclark-lists at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Nov 17 23:09:09 CST 2004

on 2004-11-17 11:34 Richard Pyle wrote:
> I feel a little guilty about sending this, because I'm about to disappear on
> a trip with no email access, but I would honestly like to understand
> something that involves the application of scientific (Linnaean-based)
> nomenclature to populations of organisms, under the paradigm that
> nomenclature should reflect strict holophyly.

The straw man that won't die. I'll try again; futility has its charms.

The properties of table salt are a result of the properties of sodium
and chlorine, but they are not identical to the properties of sodium and
chlorine. Likewise, clades are the result of the formation of species,
but their properties are no more identical to the properties of species
than the latter are identical to populations, or populations to
individuals. It seems obvious to me that it is about as useful to apply
the concept of holophyly to species as it is to apply it to populations,
individuals, or organs (my arm is paraphyletic by exclusion of my
fingers), but that in *no way* negates its usefulness in dealing with
groups of species.

It would be as if I sit in my ice-fishing shack in the middle of the
lake in spring, rhapsodizing about the meaninglessness of "freezing
point" to electrons.

I'm not addressing Richard, exactly, because I believe people who apply
holophyly to species are as sadly misguided as those who eschew its
value for species groups. It's not exactly a reply to Ken, either,
because there's no point. Perhaps I'm just an old dog bemoaning the fact
that few dogs, old or otherwise, seem to be able to learn new tricks,
and that I'm doomed to my old trick of hoping that somehow things would
get better.

Curtis Clark        
Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona                 +1 909 979 6371
Professor, Biological Sciences                   +1 909 869 4062

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