[Taxacom] Fading role of traditional taxonomists

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Tue Jun 2 13:47:02 CDT 2009

I did not attribute the decline and impending fall of systematics to
cladistics. Nothing is wrong with cladistics, in its place. I merely
revile and abominate (Taxacom is both informational and entertainment)
the associated artificial classification system that splits and lumps
taxa solely on the basis of sister-group relationships, ignoring
ancestor-descendant relationships (autapomorphies, unique major changes
in expressed traits). Sister-group analysis is fine, and even leads to
ancestor-descendant relationships if holophyly is not followed.

Wonderful things occur when morphological and molecular results differ!
If morphology evolves primarily by punctuation followed by stasis, and
molecular (non-coding) traits evolve (change) by gradualism, then the
difference can be informative. See my paper on the informational
potential of nonmonophyly:

Zander, R. H. 2008. Evolutionary inferences from non-monophyly on
molecular trees. Taxon 57: 1182--1188. or http://tinyurl.com/6frd9l 

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 John Grehan
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Fading role of traditional taxonomists

It remains to be demonstrated that cladistics can be blamed for the
decline in taxonomy and systematics.

As for combining with molecular analysis - if that is incumbent upon all
molecular practitioners then perhaps that would be fair. If, however,
comparative morphology is an independent science providing "evolutionary
connections", then molecular analysis of relationships is moot because
if they agree then fine, and if they disagree then so what?

John Grehan

More information about the Taxacom mailing list