[Taxacom] Information quantity and decision making / phylogeny

Kirk Fitzhugh kfitzhugh at nhm.org
Mon Aug 13 12:00:39 CDT 2012


The addition of more and more character data does not 'improve a 
phylogeny.' What new observations are subsequently included simply lead 
to new sets of phylogenetic hypotheses that replace the previous. The 
notion of consistency cannot be applied to the type of inferences we 
use, contra the old 'maximum likelihood' point of view. 'Improving' a 
hypothesis, i.e. empirically assessing it's explanatory abilities, comes 
by way of testing; something virtually never done in systematics.

Good luck tackling taxonomic sufficiency, and all the attendant problems 
that lie beneath the surface.


J. Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Curator of Polychaetes
Invertebrate Zoology Section
Research & Collections Branch
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007
Phone: 213-763-3233
FAX: 213-746-2999
e-mail:kfitzhug at nhm.org

On 8/13/2012 7:14 AM, Fabian Haas wrote:
> Dear All,
> hope this email finds you well. I am currently writing a paper on water
> quality and taxonomic sufficiency, i.e. which taxonomic level of id is
> sufficient to actually make an appropriate rating of the water quality
> and even decision making in the end. The topic comes up with DNA
> Barcoding, and the time you spend to have an id, which goes then into
> water scoring.
> Now, I do have some papers on Taxonomic Suffiency, but would attack the
> problem from another side, namely in more general terms: if more
> information really gives rise to better decisions, or if we get
> overloaded with interesting but in the end useless information. I did
> find a few older papers in scholar.google.com (up to 1990 that seems to
> be a hot topic) and the like. But I am sure there is more: i would
> expect that this problem has been looked at also in the perspective of
> phylogeny with the advent of molecular sciences. Did this more of
> information really improve the phylogenies (and what does improve mean
> here...)
> I would be grateful if you could point me to some papers, or author
> names, technical terms, so I can dig further. Like in Taxonomy its all
> about having a name... PDFs are also welcomed (fhaas at icipe.org)
> best Fabian

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