[Taxacom] PhyloCode & ICZN to "duke it out"?

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Oct 5 11:17:30 CDT 2007

One way to look at paraphyly is that there is a clear difference between
evolution of expressed traits and of genealogies of non-coding molecular

A single phylogenetically complex ancestor may have sent off through
parallel evolution a number of new lineages with different expressed
traits, and these lineages may align nicely with molecular lineages, but
all may be generated by one morphologically and bio-role stable (through
stabilizing selection) species. Paraphyly, especially when one or more
species cannot be rejected as surviving ancestors, then reflects
possible evolution of expressed traits, unless falsified. It's the null
hypothesis, sure, but support for the alternative hypothesis of
monophyly must come from evaluation of expressed traits, not DNA. 

I can't see molecular systematics falsifying the above, though the
end-run is clear: just redefine evolution as changes in non-coding
traits, and presto the paraphyly problem goes away because DNA always
changes with lineage splits but not necessarily evolution of expressed

Remember expressed traits? Morphology and biorole? These used to be
important in taxonomy because they were important in evolution. 

Richard H. Zander 
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Ken Kinman
> Sent: Friday, October 05, 2007 9:50 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] PhyloCode & ICZN to "duke it out"?
> >From: "Richard Pyle" Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007
> >2) Another common criticism of Phylocode is that it will lead to a
> >proliferation of names because every node could presumably be named.
> >in
> >practice, this won't happen because: a) not every node will be named
> >only
> >those for which a name assists in communicating ideas about inferred
> >phylogenetic rlationships; and b) many names, though perhaps
> >"valid" in the Phylocode context, will not be used because they have
> little
> >or no communicative value.
> >
> *****************************
> Hi Richard,
>      I am not nearly as optimistic about this or other problems that
> been discussed.  I regularly read debates among PhyloCoders
> and
> they have already proposed a dizzying array of clade names for just
> dinosaurs, some of which are synonymous as different authors rush to
> priority for their own taxon names.  It isn't pretty even among
> PhyloCoders,
> and it would (will?) be even uglier once they start attacking us
> of
> each other.  I've even heard a number of proponents of strict cladism
> they look forward to the day when the proponents of paraphyly have
> off".  I guess they don't realize how many of us there really are.
>      And I think the term "monophilia" is far too kind (after all I
> clades too).  I still think the term "paraphylophobia" more accurately
> captures the main shortcomings of strict cladism and the great harm it
> will
> do to nomenclature and our ability to communicate (not just with each
> other,
> but with people outside of professional biology).
>      To take just one minor problem you brought up.  Since genus
> is pretty clearly cladistically embedded within genus  Thalassoma,
> cladists WILL insist on "correcting" this paraphyly "problem".  But
> not
> as simple as changing to Thalassoma varium, because Gomphosus has
> priority,
> so ALL the Thalassoma species would actually be dumped into Gomphosus
> many of the specific endings will change as well).
>      Wouldn't it be simpler if PhyloCode just allowed paraphyly the
> they
> allow use of ranks.  But that isn't going to happen, because their
idea of
> communication is extremely strictly formulated and legalistic (far
> than
> ours).  Anyway, I will simply keep Gomphosus and Thalassoma as
> genera, but will mark Thalassoma as a paraphyletic mother group
> like this):
>    4  Thalassoma%
>   _a_ Gomphosus
>       There is also the question of Halichoeres maculipinna, which
> belong to Halichoeres at all.  I would simply place it as the
> species of Thalassoma, but I suspect PhyloCoders will insist on
creating a
> new genus for it.  Take my approach and you only shift one species
> (maculipinna) to Thalassoma, while strict cladists will definitely
> all
> Thalassoma species into Gomphosus (unless they suppress the latter
> and probably SPLIT maculipinna off as a new genus.  Lots of name
> that I believe to be unnecessary and avoidable.
>     Multiply such unnecessary lumping and splitting a thousand times
> among genera) and it will cause much confusion and anger beyond our
> profession.  All because strict cladists (and PhyloCoders in
> want to split hairs and create a nomenclatural legal society with
> ultimately
> millions of strictly defined names (including ours, which are admitted
> loosely defined, but that sure beats a straight-jacket).
>      And it doesn't stop at generic names.  Will clade Aves be
> to
> crown group birds (thus a senior synonym of perfectly good name
> Neornithes)?
>   Probably!!!  Likewise Amphibia, Reptilia, Tetrapoda, and many others
> will
> be redefined as crown clades that are a far cry from their normal
> (especially if you include fossil taxa).  Zoologists face a huge mess
> EVERY taxonomic level as this spreads from its epicenter (in
> Most botanists on the other hand will likely watch it all play out
from a
> safe distance and learn a valuable lesson from our turmoil.  I once
> strict cladism (and the even stricter PhyloCode) could be kept in
> own
> sandbox, but no more.  Too many of them are already taking sand from
> box
> AND adding insult to injury by throwing it back into our faces.
>     -----Ken Kinman
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