[Taxacom] Moss classification and ecosystem stability

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Mon Aug 21 09:45:32 CDT 2017

Taxacomers might be interested in my new book, now available inexpensively from Amazon:
Macroevolutionary Systematics of the Streptotrichaceae of the Bryophyta and Application to Ecosystem Thermodynamic Stability.

Biological systematics is the key to understanding and modeling the mechanisms of the present climate and biodiversity crisis. Genera are the basic dynamic units of ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems have many dissilient (radiative) genera. These genera each have a number of species or short lineages descendant from a core progenitor species.

A new moss family, Streptotrichaceae, is carved from the larger Pottiaceae, in part, on the basis of hitherto ignored traits, and demonstrates a complex dissilient structure. Sequential Bayesian analysis provides a means of determining optimal estimation of order and direction of evolution in a lineage. The Streptotrichaceae is supported by 130 informational bits, which include postulated missing links. The 28 species of the family are supported by 113 bits in the range (2-)3-5(-11) bits per species. There are 4 major scale-free networks totaling 51 bits. The contribution to ecosystem health by various taxa may now be compared by this metric of information theory.

Healthy ecosystems have multiple dissilient genera, which are modeled as hubs in scale-free networks. These networks in nature provide evolutionary redundancy through banking of taxa closely related to the critical and usually generalist core species and thus each other. Scale-free networks become small-world networks in the context of ecosystems wherein redundancy of habitat exploitation by similar species is common. Healthy ecosystems buffer and stabilize pathways of negentropic decrease, avoiding rapid energy flush. Ecosystems with more evolutionary and ecologic redundancy survive better in competition with other ecosystems and against biotic and physical catastrophes of thermodynamic disequilibria. Agents of the African savanna (humankind) have vigorously extended this rather specialized ecosystem inappropriately worldwide. Effecting a return to natural small-world networks is a restorative goal.

It suggests a way to use systematics to characterize and measure the health of an ecosystem in terms of both short- and long-term survival.

Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden - 4344 Shaw Blvd. - St. Louis - Missouri - 63110 - USA
richard.zander at mobot.org<mailto:richard.zander at mobot.org>
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/

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