[Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Sep 30 16:29:53 CDT 2011

Perhaps I might have inflated my rhetoric a bit, but I got some
discussion going. 

We DO have an understanding of trait distributions in alpha taxonomy,
enough to fairly well delimit taxa. Right? Even in flowering plants,
descriptions indeed have some empirically based distribution of traits,
even if extended through analogy.

I submit, still, that a 95% or 99% credibility support distinguishing
two molecular lines do not support two different distributions of
evolutionarily significant traits, unless you eschew total evidence as a
logical foundation for scientific study (a la Fitzhugh). They may be
different samples from the same distribution of evolutionarily
significant traits.

Or are we to believe that non-coding traits are evolutionarily
significant beyond tracking genetic continuity and isolation events?


* * * * * * * * * * * *
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: Peter Stevens 
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 4:11 PM
To: James Whitfield; Richard Zander
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa

Indeed, thousand of specimens/species/thousands of obseervations???. For
fl. pl., this would simply be inflated rhetoric.  Admittedly, I don't
work on mosses, so no possibility of scoring cell characters for all
specimens, but most morphological characters (flower; fruit) are scored
from relatively few specimens, and when you get into anatomical (inc.
seed anatomy), germination, pollen, etc., and chemical characters, then
the sampling may be no better than molecular studies. And to what extent
might we have actual specimen-based information for these thousands of


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