Consensus

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Tue Apr 4 09:12:47 CDT 2006


I think the issue is a bit more complicated.  If everybody agreed on
the same phylogeny, the same clades, that would not result in the
same names being used. Even if we had the same philosophy of
classification, whether phylogenetic or evolutionary (strict
monophyly versus paraphyly) there would still not be necessary
agreement as to what names to use.  Some of the classifications that
are widely used are quite simply wrong from just about every point of
view (not all: they can still be used for filing specimens, and the
like, even if they are less than optimal if the collections are used
for teaching), and I think little is gained by retaining these as
options.  I don't want to keep Liliaceae or Saxifragaceae as they
were commonly circumscribed in the 1950s in use!  But such examples
aside, the important point is surely that it becomes difficult to
communicate (teaching, conversation, writing papers) if people use
different names for the same thing.

If one adopted a phylocode-type naming system, then there wouldn't be
any trouble from a database point of view - a clade can have only one
name - but the users of the system would be faced with a similar
problem when actually trying to communicate, whether filing
specimens, teaching, etc.: which clade names would be used? (There
are other problems with phylocode-type names when it comes to
communication, but that is not the issue here).

P.

The portal is neat...


>Much of the discussion seems to assume that we are faced
>with 'either' 'or' decisions about classifications.  This
>is not correct.  A visit to the uBio web site or its RSS
>feeder reader will demonstrate the co-existence of
>multiple hierarchical frameworks.  So we can create
>systems that meet opposing needs.
>
>The CU*STAR classification structure that we are building
>is designed for communal ownership and multiple
>co-existing classifications within a unified framework.
>  This structure is still in development, but when complete
>will access the full NameBank content, will engage
>numerous custodians; and be synchronized to expert
>sources.  Navigation will reveal alternative
>classifications and users will be free to use the
>classification of their choosing - just as they can do so
>now with uBio's taxonomically intelligent feeder reader or
>with the aggregation portal
>(<http://portal.ubio.org/>http://portal.ubio.org/).  If
>all goes well, we will be able to report on those clades
>that all classifications agree on (i.e. are consensus) and
>distinguish those that are noisy.  Among the latter, we
>will also be able to report on which parts get widely
>used, and which are bypassed.
>
>David Patterson
>MBL and uBio




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