[Taxacom] Cladifications are NOT classifications(MonaLisadrooling)

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 2 10:52:27 CDT 2006

    I think Farnz has it backwards.  The "frequent revision of Linnaean 
names" is definitely NOT a good thing.  Dinosaur systematics has become a 
true "Babel" of conflicting taxonomies.  The large number of analyses and 
phylogenies (cladograms) is wonderful, but the premature translation of 
those conflicting phylogenies into formal classifications has ruined the 
taxonomy.  I prefer to store relatively unstable information in the coding.  
Workers with different phylogenies could have different codings of the same 
basic classification (a stable listing of included taxa).  Better to debate 
over codings rather than prematurely and frequently changing the Linnaean 
names.  Many of the new dinosaur clade names are already being abandoned 
because they were based on homoplasies, and the same thing is going to 
happen to increasingly cladified mammalian classifications (even those based 
on molecular data).

    Informal names for such speculative "clades" are a better alternative 
(e.g., bullatosaurs or clade "X + Y", not Bullatosauria), but the mad rush 
to establish priority for PhyloCode names is unfortunately far stronger than 
any calls for a moratorium.  And don't expect molecular data to stabilize 
the situation any time soon, because it is also plagued by problems of 
homoplasy, misrooting, and other complications in phylogeny construction.  
Sorry Farnz, but we need a bigger gap, not a smaller one.  Informal names 
would do just as well at ensuring community-wide access to the products of 
systematic research, and it would avoid a lot of instability, confusion, and 
unnecessary formal names (many of which don't turn out to be clades anyway). 
  Thank goodness, cladistic botany has largely avoided the mistakes made by 
many vertebrate paleontologists and herpetologists.  Peter Stevens' 
angiosperm cladograms are very detailed, but he doesn't formally name all 
those new clades.  That's an excellent example of how it SHOULD be done.
   -----Ken Kinman

>   Farnz, N.M., 2005. On the lack of good scientific reasons for the 
>growing phylogeny/classification gap. Cladistics 21(5): 495-500.
>   Abstract:
>   An increasing number of phylogenetic analyses is no longer translated 
>into classifications. The resulting phylogeny ⁄ classification gap is 
>undesirable because the precise transmission of phylogenetic insights 
>depends on the frequent revision of Linnaean names. The move away from 
>classifying has numerous correlates. These include: an expanded pool of 
>researchers who are able to produce phylogenetic estimates, a mismatch 
>between the properties of molecular phylogenies and the requirements for 
>verbal Linnaean definitions, the emphasis of statistical representations 
>over the creation and evaluation of scientific terms, and a partial 
>disconnect between the processes of nomenclature and taxonomy. The 
>‘‘taxonomic concept’’ approach allows systematists to express their 
>varying perspectives with a high precision and can therefore help reduce 
>the aforementioned gap. The phylogeny ⁄ classification link must persist 
>in order to ensure community-wide access to, and continued testing of, the 
>products of systematic research.

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