[Taxacom] Fading role of traditional taxonomists

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Tue Jun 2 12:50:18 CDT 2009

I think there are some specific problems that may be addressed that may
alleviate the "dying out" of taxonomy.

It is the COMBINATION of molecular analysis (tracking genetic lineages
and isolation events but not necessarily speciation events) and natural
taxa (in Darwin's sense of genealogy plus differences, coupled with all
aspects of biology including biogeography, chromosome counts, syn and
autecology, chemistry, whatever, being a rational, consolidation of an
evolutionary trajectory through time in space) that provides advances in
systematics (molecular analysis providing evolutionary connections, and
"traditional" taxonomy providing that which evolves along those

Not genealogy alone. Strict phylogenetic monophyly is a ticking bomb in
the heart of phylogenetics. It leads to:

1. The inability to identify organisms, particularly from expressed
traits important in evolution.

2. Increasing reliance on an artificial classification (holophyly),
which has got to alienate all rational biologists except
phylogeneticists (whose methods only generate information on
sister-group relationships as far as they are concerned).

If classification by holophyly is not soon identified as a shuck and
abandoned, I give systematics five years before there are no students
and the rest of us give up.

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
Non-post deliveries to:
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Mario Blanco
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 11:56 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Fading role of traditional taxonomists

I know this topic is familiar with most members of this forum, but here 
is a link to a recent article about it in The Scientist, with some 
interesting data on the performance of the PEET program:



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