[Taxacom] Catalogue of Life (CoL) management classificationdraft document

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Sat Jul 18 17:13:43 CDT 2009

Opps. Those are not quotations from or representative of Grant's paper. They are solely my own, based on various readings and channeling Darwin.
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.
richard.zander at mobot.org


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Richard Zander
Sent: Sat 7/18/2009 12:58 PM
To: Stephen Thorpe; Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Catalogue of Life (CoL) management classificationdraft document

Well, it's a little more complicated than that, Stephen. Read, for
example, Vern Grant's 2008 paper: Incongruence between cladistic and
taxonomic systems. Amer. J. Botany 90: 1263-1270. You may be able to get
it as a pdf (try Google scholar).

Here are some mindbites:

There are two kind of monophyly, evolutionary and strict phylogenetic.
The former allows judgments of evolutionary process while the latter
emphasizes patterns.

Phylogenetics groups taxa by branching order as a series of sister
groups (following Hennig's Phylogenetic Method), while taxonomy groups
by both similarity and differences (following Darwin's Natural System).

Phylogenetic classification allows (ideally) no ancestor-descendant
relationships to be reflected in classification, while taxonomy allows
both ancestor-descendant and sister-group relationships (to the extent

Phylogenetics eliminates all traits that are not informative of
sister-group relationships, while taxonomy deals with all traits, even
unique traits informative only of macroevolution (ancestor-descendant
relationships involving evolutionary transitions between taxa).

Apparently dealing with ancestor-descendant relationships, that is,
speciation and generation of higher taxa, is (1) not possible with
sister-group analysis although inferences can be made, and (2) it is too
hard because it involves judgment. Phylogenetics is thus a crippled form
of taxonomy, focused on providing a quick fix and workaround for the
usual give and take of scientific thought.

Creationism seeks to eliminate macroevolution from the classroom.
Phylogenetics tries to eliminate it from classification. The difference
in this respect between creationism and phylogenetics is that
creationism has failed.


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