[Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 4 21:24:00 CDT 2012


Hi Stephen,   
       I agree with your statement about phylogeneticists trying to shove too much into a classification (which is why I often use alpha-numeric coding instead of naming every possible clade).  However, your statement about 10 or fewer species also bothers me.  A higher taxon with just a few living species could have thousands of unknown extinct species, so the age of the taxon is also a big factor.  And one should also consider context and balance.  Picking the number 10 (or any number of species) seems rather arbitrary.  
             ------------------Ken

Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2012 19:00:05 -0700
From: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa
To: kinman at hotmail.com; msharkey at uky.edu; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

It does raise one of the most intractable issues in taxonomy/systematics, i.e. that of lumping/splitting of higher taxa (a different problem than at the species level). My view is that there are far too many genera nowadays. I would collapse whole families (small ones) into single genera. Overly phylogenetically minded people just don't seem to understand that they can still do phylogeny without having to shove it all into a classification. If any higher taxon has fewer than 10 species, and is clearly monophyletic, then it should be a genus, IMHO! If you want to discuss the phylogeny of those 10 or fewer species, then just draw a tree and talk about that ...
 
Stephen





From: Ken Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com>
To: msharkey at uky.edu; "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Friday, 5 October 2012 2:49 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa


Hi Michael, 
          Well, over the years, Ernst Mayr tackled that subject on every taxonomic level from superspecies to Domains and Empires.  You
 might start with the book by Mayr and Ashlock, 1991 (Principles of Systematic Zoology, 2nd Edition) and references therein.  And for a discussion mainly at higher taxonomic levels (Kingdoms, Phyla, and Classes), try Thomas Cavalier-Smith, 1998 ("A Revised Six-Kingdom System of Life"; Biol. Rev. 73:203-266).  They are both adherents of one criterion in particular (Principle of Balance).  However, I believe Mayr did a better overall job with another pair of criteria (maximizing the stability of names whenever possible, without sacrificing informativeness/utility).        
                    ---------------------Ken  
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> From: msharkey at uky.edu
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2012 18:30:29 +0000
> Subject: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa
> 
> Hello all,
> Does anyone have references to papers that discuss criteria for erecting (or sinking) taxa above the species level. (Besides the obvious monophyly).
> Thanks in advance
> Mike
> 
> Michael Sharkey
> Department of Entomology
> University of Kentucky
> Lexington KY 40546-0091
> (859) 257-9364
> msharkey at uky.edu
> www.sharkeylab.org
> 
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