Should we ditch infageneric ranks?

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Tue Sep 27 11:34:03 CDT 2005


I guess the fundamental question is, What is your level of confidence with
respect to the "clear infrageneric groups" you perceive in Banksia (s.l.)?  If
they really are clearly recognizable and you believe they will be stable with
respect to additional information, then I would recommend recognizing them.
Among other things, names give us a shorthand system for referring to
collections and serve as mnemonic devices.  If they do correspond to what we
believe to be well-supported groups, they also serve effectively for information
retrieval.  Knowing an oak belongs to Quercus section Lobatae is much more
informative than just knowing that it belongs to Quercus.  On the other hand,
carrying it too far can be a waste; while knowing that an oak belongs to Quercus
section Lobatae series Laurifoliae may be informative in one respect (leaves are
entire or at most with three shallow lobes), series Laurifoliae does not appear
to be a natural group by any criterion other than general leaf shape.

I vote for recognition of those "clear infrageneric groups" simply because, as
noted by others, they can be useful ("user-friendly") for organizing one's
thinking about this large genus.  Yes, someone may someday discover that these
groups are polyphyletic or paraphyletic, put that is possible (probable?) for
virtually every classification to date.

Cheers,

Dick J.

Kevin Thiele wrote:

> >And spare a thought for our mate Murray who
> >as a botanist chose to live in Dryandra Street?
> >Is he going to have to change his address to
> >Banksiasubgenusdryandra Street?
>
> Good grief - how many more of these am I going to get?
>
> Your point about the undesirability of informal species groups in databases
> is well put, but tell me - does any database in the universe actually place
> Banksia leptophylla into subseries Leptophyllae of series Abietinae of
> section Oncostylis of Bankia? If you can show me one, I'll show you an
> anal-retentive. Sure, APNI has all the infrataxa in it (just for fun, I
> assume, since I doubt anyone actually uses them) - but wouldn't you be
> better off without them? - then you wouldn't have to change series Abietinae
> into section Abietinae etc etc.
>
> The problems with e.g. Casuarina s.l. seem to me to be someone else's
> problem. Laurie Johnson had the option to use infraranks for these and he
> decided not to, hence a gradual change away from infraranks wouldn't have
> had any effect in such practice.
>
> >If you know what the story is and you
> >think it is worth telling in a nomenclatural sense,
> >why not create a new infrageneric classification
> >and stat. novs to reflect what you believe?
>
> This is exactly the question - is the story (the clear infageneric groups
> that exist in Banksia s.l.) worth telling in a nomenclatural sense? - why
> not tell it with a branching diagram, which is a much better way of telling
> the story?
>
> Cheers - k
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Croft [mailto:jrc at anbg.gov.au]
> Sent: Tuesday, 27 September 2005 4:47 PM
> To: 'Kevin Thiele'; TAXACOM at listserv.nhm.ku.edu
> Cc: 'Murray Fagg'
> Subject: RE: Should we ditch infageneric ranks?
>
> And spare a thought for our mate Murray who as a botanist chose to live
> in Dryandra Street?  Is he going to have to change his address to
> Banksiasubgenusdryandra Street?
>
> One view of infrataxa is that they can provide a playground for people
> who wish to express relationships in a formal nomenclatural environment
> without impinging on the 'general usefulness' of easily recognizable
> primary taxa.
>
> My defiant opinion is that the world would have been a better place if
> the obvious evolutionary lines in the Casuarinaceae were expressed in a
> rich infrageneric classification of a single genus Casuarina rather than
> forcing to population to come to grips with hand-lens differences
> between Casuarina, Allocasuarina, Gymnostoma and Ceuthostoma.
> Recognising these affinities at infrageneric level for people who
> actually care about such things does not make the taxa any less real.  I
> think it was Cronquist who said a genus was a bunch of species that sort
> of look alike - and nothing looks more alike than a bunch of casuarinas
> s.l.  :)
>
> The same could be said about Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora, but
> again, the tide follows in another direction...  :)
>
> As to your options, informal home made groupings are a pain to manage in
> an information sense in that they rarely fit comfortably in the existing
> systems we are set up for.  You could just ignore them, but then why
> create them in the first place?  If you know what the story is and you
> think it is worth telling in a nomenclatural sense, why not create a new
> infrageneric classification classification and stat. novs to reflect
> what you believe?
>
> Those who care about such things will be dutifully impressed.  And those
> who don't won't notice...  :)
>
> And as for Murray, I guess he will just have to move...
>
> jim
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at listserv.nhm.ku.edu] On
> Behalf Of Kevin Thiele
> Sent: Tuesday, 27 September 2005 12:41 PM
> To: TAXACOM at listserv.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: Should we ditch infageneric ranks?
>
> I don't particularly want to get into a discussion about Banksia and
> Dryandra as such, because my question is a more general one.
>
> But, for the record, Banksia has priority (as, I suppose in some ways,
> Banks
> had over Dryander). So there will be no Big Bad Dryandra Men.
>
> > Just for the fun of it, let's include a third option:
> >
> >     3. Leave it alone.
>
> That's not an option at the level of the question, which was not about
> whether we SHOULD sink Dryandra into Banksia, but what we should do
> about
> the infrataxa given that we intend to sink.
>
> Cheers - Kevin Thiele
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf
> Of Nadia Talent
> Sent: Tuesday, 27 September 2005 12:22 PM
> To: TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Should we ditch infageneric ranks?
>
> On 26 Sep 2005, at 19:08, Kevin Thiele wrote:
> > A colleague and I are preparing a paper to merge two Australian
> > proteaceous
> > genera (Dryandra, 93 spp and Banksia, 80 spp). Morphological and
> > molecular
> > results provide strong evidence that the latter is paraphyletic
> > with respect
> > to the former.
>
> On 26 Sep 2005, at 19:59, Mike Dallwitz wrote:
>
> >> We are keen to poll TAXACOM members as to their opinions on these two
> >> alternative courses of action - what do you think we should do?
> >>
> >
> > Just for the fun of it, let's include a third option:
> >
> >     3. Leave it alone.
>
> Given the intense public interest in Australia over the recent Acacia/
> Racosperma debate at the IBC, it would be interesting to know whether
> Dryandra or Banksia has nomenclatural priority. Would the children's
> song now feature Big Bad Dryandra Men?
>
> Nadia Talent
> Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
> Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada

--
Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen




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