[Taxacom] Phylogenetic Classification?

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Mon Jul 27 00:04:48 CDT 2009

Now cladists perhaps know how an evolutionary taxonomist feels about the
outrages committed on classification when holophyly (strict phylogenetic
monophyly) is enforced. It's more than merely offensive because it is
more than an imminent threat, like creationism is.

In the family of mosses I've worked on for 35 years, three other
families have been dumped into it with no discussion apart from
molecularly being derived from within the larger family instead of being
sister to it. Brummit has reviewed in Taxon a list of flowering plant
outrages. I've seen many published molecular cladograms with
long-recognized higher taxa buried in other taxa of the same rank, and
these are often not synonymized yet, but in a while, as courage builds,
they will be. 

Linnaean classification is in the process of being cleansed of any hint
of macroevolution. Soon classifications will be totally sister-groups.
Analysis of sister groups is important, but the "principle" of holophyly
throws a spanner wrench into the analytic process, and eliminates even
the possibility of naming ancestors.

It is easy to say, "well, anyone can discuss anything anytime," but that
is not quite true. First, if classification eliminates words for
ancestors, how can one talk about them, particularly in 20 years when
the literature is considered ancient and out of touch? Cactaceae? What's
that? Second, I've had reviewers ignore my papers for months. A major
paper has been at Plant Systematics and Evolution since early January,
and I was told 2 months ago that the assigned Associate Editor has
simply ignored it, and it would be sent to someone else, no word yet.
Felsenstein told me that in the 1980's he had to publish out of the
country because his statistical phylogenetics papers would not be
published in the U.S.A. by the then ruling maximum parsimonyists. No,
once the cladistic cleansing has wiped ancestor-descendant relationships
from classification, there will be little discussion.

I abhor creationism, and am sorry that it is such a scary thing in
California. On the other hand, classification is the basis for
scientific study of nature, biodiversity, and natural processes.
Classification by holophyly is a major disaster for Western science. And
it is happening now.

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Curtis Clark
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2009 2:28 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Phylogenetic Classification?

On 2009-07-26 11:55, Richard Zander wrote:
> (Okay, it's a silly conspiracy theory, but we all enjoy conspiracy
theories, right?)

Actually, I find it offensive. Maybe Missouri doesn't have any 
creationists, so it's easy to sling the term around as a hypothetical, 
but here in California we accept creationism as a serious threat.

Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Director, I&IT Web Development                   +1 909 979 6371
University Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona

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