overly-inflated Family Staphylinidae

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 10 16:20:54 CST 2005


Margaret wrote:
Ken,
You seem to have missed the fact that Pselaphinae (=former Pselaphidae) is merely a PART of the Omaliine group, not the whole thing by a long shot.  This is quite clearly shown on the Staphylinidae TOL page
http://tolweb.org/tree?group=Staphylinidae.
**********************************************************
Dear Margaret,
      Oh no, I didn't miss that at all.  I tried to make that clear by saying "Pselaphidae (= Omaliinae group)".  Once the omaliines and others were found to be allied with Pselaphines, it would have been best to unite them in an expanded Family Pselaphidae (therefore containing a total of 10 subfamilies).  Your tree clearly shows such a Family Pselaphidae to be sister group to a less-"bloated" (to use Derek's term) Family Staphylinidae.  The tree is fine, but I really dislike the phrase "Omaliinae group" even more than I dislike it being shoved into Staphylinidae.  None of those subfamilies were ever "true staphylinids", and once the error was discovered, I would have transferred them to Pselaphidae.  I really see little advantage in putting it off until the future.

     Of course, the question remains whether Family Silphidae is sister group to a Pselaphidae-Staphylinidae clade, or if it is actually closer to one of these two families than they are to each other.  Whatever the exact cladistic topology turns out to be, I would treat them as three separate families, not dump yet another family into one that is already too inflated (I haven't looked at Scydmaenidae, so not sure what I would do with it).  Anyway, this is what Mayr and Ashlock would refer to as aiming for "balance" in classification.  Not that classifications can be (or should be) made to be perfectly balanced, BUT we should avoid making them more unbalanced whenever we can do so.  I think 8 families of Staphylinoidea is a good number, but the way things are going you might end up with only two or three (one being an even more bloated monster), and that would be even more unbalanced (not to mention an increased chance that you will inadvertently created a monster that is paraphyletic as well as bloated).
     ----- Cheers,
                 Ken Kinman
P.S.  As for different interpretations of Darwin's quote, I suspect it might lie in how different people interpret the phrase "same degree in blood".  I'll have to think about that some more.




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