[Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Thomas Pape TPape at snm.ku.dk
Mon Jan 26 13:22:05 CST 2009

Yes, higher taxa change over time. So do I. But do I evolve ...? No!
/Thomas Pape

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Zander [mailto:Richard.Zander at mobot.org] 
Sent: 26. januar 2009 20:18
To: Thomas Pape; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

I do not in any sense support the idea that cladograms exist in Nature
and are discovered by those with the right software. Evolution works
through descent with modification of taxa, not traits, though traits are
certainly involved. Traits are emphasized in cladistics because of the
nature of the software.

Of course higher taxa replicate. A species replicates and may be
evolutionarily static for millions of years. So too do higher taxa.
Species change through descent with modification. Why not genera? Check
out Gould for three classes of mechanisms for how higher taxa may be
evolutionarily change through descent with modification (of species).

Richard H. Zander 
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Thomas Pape
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 1:04 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Richard Zander wrote:
>Gould (in his "Foundations") provides a summary of thinking that
>supports the idea that higher categories evolve and may be treated
>evolutionarily like individuals. Genera and families are then rather

Yes, higher taxa may be very real indeed. Read for example Norm
Platnick's "From Cladograms to Classifications: The Road to DePhylocode"

This reality does not, however, mean that higher taxa are able to
evolve. Evolution requires that something is being non-perfectly
replicated with subsequent differential 'survival'. Higher taxa may
become extinct, but they do not have the capacity to replicate.

/Thomas Pape
Natural History Museum of Denmark


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