[Taxacom] classification and phylogeny [was: considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa]

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 7 20:32:26 CDT 2012





Dear All,
        And yet, despite warnings, strict cladists will continue to try to stuff all of their phylogeny into "classifications" (cladifications), even if it continues to introduce instability.  I realized this decades ago, and that is why I ATTEMPTED to introduce a system that would allow stuffing lots of phylogeny into classifications while minimizing the instability.  Alpha-numeric coding of the phylogeny between standard ranks would not only reduce the need for ever increasing numbers of oddball ranks (Mirorders, Parvorders, ad nauseum), but the coding could be modified to reflect alternate (often improved) phylogenies, while the basic classification would remain amazingly stable.    
      It's close to actually having your cake and eating it too, but strict cladists had become so paraphylophobic that they prefer to blindly forge ahead in spite of the instability, enamoured as they are with the pronouncements of Hennig.  And they will continue to do so as long as editors and funding agencies do not penalize them for being so short-sighted.  Just like Wall Street, they are seriously in need of something far stronger than just a slap on the wrist if they are going to change their ways.  They so abused Linnean ranks that they destroyed their utility and thus many of them ultimately started abandoning the ranks which their practices had undermined.  It seems strikingly similar to how Wall Street undermined the financial system, but if you don't punish bad behavior, it will persist.    
                  ----------------Ken Kinman

Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2012 17:41:25 -0700
From: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa
To: Richard.Zander at mobot.org; p.kirk at cabi.org; kinman at hotmail.com; msharkey at uky.edu; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

Note that the discussion here is about the relationship between two distinct things: classification and phylogeny. Assuming that we all want a classification that is congruent with phylogeny (though (ideas of) the latter is highly unstable, which we don't want our classification to be!), the issue is about *how much* phylogeny to stuff into a classification. Phylogeny, at any level of detail, can still be studied independently of classification, so there is no need to try to stuff all of phylogeny into a classification!





From: Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
To: Paul Kirk <p.kirk at cabi.org>; Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; Ken Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com>; msharkey at uky.edu; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Monday, 8 October 2012 1:29 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa





Once upon a time, a taxonomist suggested a simple solution to the problem of naming of higher categories. First, treat all OTUs as part of one species. Analyze into parsimonious groups of trait changes (microevolution) this single species. THEN, point out that parsimony creates a neat dichotomous key, or something like it. Declare this a natural key since it is based on "evolution." Note that the natural key is nested just like a classification. Switch from treating analytically the natural key to one species with microevolutionary changes, to it being a natural key to many species with macroevolutionary changes. Since the classification is right there, eliminate all information that refutes this classification (i.e., paraphyly and embedded high ranks where they should not be). Presto, all is fixed.

Ignore any questions of how macroevolution might have generated groups in nature.

Once upon a time this
 actually happened.

_____________________
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.
richard.zander at mobot.org



-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Paul Kirk
Sent: Fri 10/5/2012 4:04 AM
To: Stephen Thorpe; Ken Kinman; msharkey at uky.edu; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa

Users of names outside taxonomy work mainly at the species level (or below). A polyphyletic set of examplars tagged as species within the same genus that could usefully be split, could be split into a series of monophyletic sets by recognizing infrageneric taxa. The down side of this is that for 'non zoologists' - those working in ICNafp space - is the absence of nomenclatural novelties, combinations, with authorship. The up side is that the aforementioned users of names outside
 taxonomy do not need to learn new names which, other things being equal, IMHO, is mostly a good thing.

Paul
________________________________________
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of Stephen Thorpe [stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
Sent: 05 October 2012 03:00
To: Ken Kinman; msharkey at uky.edu; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] considerations for erecting (or sinking) higher taxa

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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 here

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