[Taxacom] Willi Hennig (1913—1976): His Life, Legacy and the Future of Phylogenetic Systematics

David Williams - Botany d.m.williams at nhm.ac.uk
Tue Nov 5 06:09:28 CST 2013

Willi Hennig (1913—1976): His Life, Legacy and the Future of Phylogenetic Systematics

Sponsored by The Linnean Society,The Systematics Association and the Natural History Museum
Date: 27th November 2013
Venue: The Linnean Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly.
Registration: http://www.linnean.org/Meetings-and-Events/Events/Willi+Hennig+and+the+Future+of+Phylogenetic+Systematics

Willi Hennig (1913—1976): His Life, Legacy and the Future of Phylogenetic Systematics

Willi Hennig (1913—1976) arguably exerted the strongest theoretical influence on the practice and course of systematic biology of anyone since Charles Darwin. A dipterist by speciality, Hennig did not simply study flies but considered a whole host of issues pertinent to biological classification, writing on the science of taxonomy and systematics, revising and promoting discussion on topics such as the precise meaning of relationship, the nature of systematic evidence and how these matters impinge on a general understanding of monophyly, homology and our knowledge of the processes of evolution. It would not seem unreasonable to suggest that nearly all comparative biology has been altered because of his contribution. For the most part, those contributions had a major impact in the English-speaking world through his 1966 book Phylogenetic Systematics (reprinted in 1979 and again in 1999), which, oddly enough, at the time of its original publication, was not greeted with enthusiasm by most reviewers, who “generally failed to perceive the possibilities in applying Hennig’s approach…” (Rosen et al. 1979, in the Forward to the first republishing of Phylogenetic Systematics). Phylogenetic Systematics, or cladistics as it is more widely known, slowly but steadily, began to permeate almost every sphere of systematic biology, from prokaryotes to mammals, from those exploring the emerging areas of molecular biology, to those still attempting to understand the evolutionary significance of wing venation in insects.
In 2013, if Hennig had lived, he would have been 100 years old. This day meeting has been put together with the aim of celebrating that anniversary and has been organised to explore details of the man, his ideas and how they have affected systematic biology – and perhaps of greatest significance, how his ideas and influence will continue to do so. It is also timely that the first in depth biography of Hennig, From Taxonomy to Phylogenetics. Life and Work of Willi Hennig, has been published this year and its author, Michael Schmitt, will be present to give an extended overview of his book.

Speakers: Wili Xylander, Charissa Varma, David Williams, Ole Seberg, Pascal Tassy, Leandro C. S. Assis, René Zaragüeta i Bagils, Andy Brower, Quentin Wheeler and Michael Schmitt

Contact for more information: David Williams (dmw at nhm.ac.uk<mailto:dmw at nhm.ac.uk>)

Dr David M. Williams
Department of Life Sciences
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

Gmail: DavidMyWilliams at gmail.com<mailto:DavidMyWilliams at gmail.com>
T: +44 (0)207 942 5114
F: +44 (0)207 942 5260
M: 07814408106
Skype: david.williams178
Twitter: @DavidMyWilliams

More information about the Taxacom mailing list