[Taxacom] Fwd: Re: Why character-tracking doesn't happen?

John Pinto jpinto at ucr.edu
Fri Sep 12 11:33:23 CDT 2008

>I always find it odd when people criticise cladistics and/or
>phylogenetics without suggesting how the questions they ask could be
>better answered. The implication seems to be that either 1) the
>questions are unanswerable 2) they are not interesting, or 3) there must
>be better ways to address them but we don't know what they are...


I think the issue for many is not that we don't subscribe to cladistic 
methodology as a useful, perhaps even the best available, tool for 
hypothesizing relationships.  The question is more - when do we have 
adequate cladistic support to modify existing classifications?  Many 
cladists have historically insisted classifications must correspond to 
cladistic results - which many times might be unwarranted given the tenuous 
nature of these results.  Those who consider their final cladogram 
tentative and not sufficiently robust to warrant a change in classification 
are then often castigated for recognizing paraphyletic 
groups.  ...................... john

>P.S. I know few phylogeneticists with an organismal background who
>aren't intensely interested in homoplastic morphological characters on a
>robustly supported phylogeny, i.e. credible hypotheses of convergence
>and reversal.
>Neil E. Bell
>Postdoctoral Researcher
>(Bryophyte Systematics)
>PO Box 7
>00014 University of Helsinki
>+358 9 191 24463
>neil.bell at helsinki.fi
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

John D. Pinto
Professor Emeritus
Department of Entomology
University of California, Riverside

Current Address:

P.O. Box 2266
Waldport, Oregon  97394  

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