[Taxacom] Order Campanulales (worth maintaining?)

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Tue Feb 22 11:07:52 CST 2011

Okay, okay, you taconomists, here's my response to your ridicule of
human pattern recognition for taxa delimitations. 

(1) It works. Different taxonomists come up with much the same groups
most of the time. See discussion of genetic algorithms in Gigerenzer's
book Gut Feelings.

(2) Once upon a time, there was a great hoopdeerah over biosystematics,
which promised much. Cluster analysis, ordinations, growth chamber and
reciprocal plantings, cytology, chemistry, all kinds of dimensions for
narrowing down exactly what makes each species distinct or nearly
distinct. This was replaced. There IS a gap between alpha taxonomy and
genomics, and that should be filled with biosystematics, with
nonultrametric similarity analysis ("parsimony" and coalescence studies)
as part of biosystematics being an additional valuable dimension. 

Your demand for a definition is okay in the context of theory, but not
in a structuralist context where a definition is something more like a
fact deduced from another fact. Biosystematics can help define (produce
a really well-supported theory) a taxon in terms of natural phenomena.
Where is the CytologyBank, ReciprocalTransplantBank, MorphometricBank,
ChemistryBank, PheneticsBank, and so on that might complement GeneBank?
* * * * * * * * * * * * 
Richard H. Zander 
Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA 
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Christopher
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2011 4:43 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Order Campanulales (worth maintaining?)

On 2011-02-19 15:03, Richard Zander wrote:
> Genera are non-arbitrary because we see them, apprehend them, grok 
> them, vasten them; even Aristotle recognized genera, Linneaus 
> incorporated them into his very names for species

We can also all see and apprehend the face of Jesus appearing in a taco.
One could even conduct a detailed study of apparitions of the face of
Jesus, recording where and when they happened, who saw them, and
modelling when they were likely to happen again. But your results
wouldn't be related to external reality, but to the human propensity for
imposing familiar patterns on their external world. How is one to define
genera in such a way that they don't also fall into this trap?


         Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor
Dept of Environment and Agriculture
Curtin University
GPO Box U1987
WA 6845



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