[Taxacom] Usefulness vs. convenience (Protista)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Dec 19 14:44:03 CST 2010

>Do non-cladists give only stable and conclusive results?
Didn't say that they did, but highest level molecular phylogenetics of life 
seems particularly unstable and inconclusive ...

I expect paraphyletic groups like Protista are useful to bioinformaticians who 
don't want to have to change their higher classification every time someone 
publishes a new phylogeny ...

From: Kleo Pullin <kleopullin at pacbell.net>
To: murrellze <murrellze at appstate.edu>; Stephen Thorpe 
<stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Mon, 20 December, 2010 9:33:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Usefulness vs. convenience (Protista)

Do non-cladists give only stable and conclusive results? 

And conclusive in what manner? If new molecular information, or if a new means 
of examining physical information, changes how Linneaus classified an organism, 
the Linnean taxonomy changes. Doesn't this show that the results were not 
conclusive because some data were missing to begin with? So, how are taxonomic 
relationships conclusive when they show a relationship that is based on a 
non-cladistic relationship? An example would help me out.

For the trees, I see how a finite geographic area makes only the descriptions of 
the species, without their evolutionary relationships useful. On the other hand, 
as soon as you expand your geographic area or your time span, isn't it useful to 
know about closely related species, as in genetically related? Because, after 
all, isn't this where you will expand your knowledge of species through space 
and time, by looking at close genetic relationships?

I can see how Protista is useful; but I was hoping some of you could tell me 
other ways in which it is useful to you. It's useful for me when trying to 
explain eukaryotic micro-organisms to children, particularly amoeba and 
photosynthetic (and sometimes not) single-celled organisms that are not plants, 
animals or fungi. Very helpful as a starting point to have this dump-all 

But, I would like more information from taxonomists on this list about how they 
find using a group such as "Protista" useful in their work. 

Also, anyone know who is classifying Rhodophyta as other than plants these days?

Again, thanks for the response.


--- On Sun, 12/19/10, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:

>From: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Usefulness vs. convenience (Protista)
>To: "murrellze" <murrellze at appstate.edu>, "Kleo Pullin" 
<kleopullin at pacbell.net>
>Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Date: Sunday, December 19, 2010, 11:57 AM
>>but I am struck by the usefulness of this discussion
>is that usefulness or convenience?
>>1) classifications are most valuable when they reflect our knowledge of 
>>evolutionary history 
>> Why are we attempting to classify life in the 21st century without including 
>>our understanding of the "tree of life"?
>if cladistics gave stable and conclusive results, then all would be well, but it 
>ain't so ...
>there is no a priori reason why classification needs to follow phylogenetics ... 
>phylogeneticists can study phlogeny and leave it to taxonomists to do 
>classification ...
From: murrellze <murrellze at appstate.edu>
>To: Kleo Pullin <kleopullin at pacbell.net>
>Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Sent: Mon, 20 December, 2010 8:10:00 AM
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Usefulness vs. convenience (Protista)
>I can't answer your questions, but I am struck by the usefulness of this 
>discussion in pointing out that 1) classifications are most valuable when they 
>reflect our knowledge of evolutionary history and 2) the Phylocode is the best 
>way we currently have to reflect evolutionary history in a classification 
>The Linnaean classification system is woefully inadequate, as demonstrated in 
>this discussion thread.  Why are we attempting to classify life in the 21st 
>century without including our understanding of the "tree of life"?
>Zack Murrell
>Kleo Pullin wrote:
>> I have a few questions about this discussion:
>>  1. Why/how/for what is Protista more useful or convenient?
>>  2. And what is the difference between usefulness and convenience--this thread 
>>is titled "Usefulness vs. convenience?"
>>>>        As for rhodophytes (and glaucophytes),
>> Cavalier-Smith includes them in a very broad Kingdom Plantae. Others
>> have left them in Protista, but included green algae in Plantae (making
>> it equivalent to Viridiplantae).  3. Who has left rhodophyta in the Protista?
>>  Thanks,
>>  Kleo Pullin
>> _______________________________________________
>> Taxacom Mailing List
>> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>> The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of these 
>> (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
>> Or (2) a Google search specified as:  
>>site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here


More information about the Taxacom mailing list