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The mission of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB), as a society, is to strengthen bryology by encouraging interactions among all persons interested in byophytes.

Friday, October 2, 2009

BRYONET: local endemics

I don't think the issue is with molecular data, as Rod and Chris
suggest, but the devotion to absolute monophyly by many contemporary
taxonomists, especially the molecular phylogeneticists. If these unique
locals did not exist, the widespread species would be "good" species. As
soon as a distinctive local endemic is recognized and named, a strict
phylogeneticist demands that the widespread species be broken up into
monophyletic clades. I think this is silly.
A recently evolved, distinct species is being selected for its unique
characters. Natural selection is just as likely to select for
stabilization of an older species. I think that phylogenetics has
substituted "evolution by selection of apomorphies" for "evolution by
natural selection." A strict monophyletic classification is not really a
classification, it is simply naming clades, for which the Phylocode will
probably do fine. But somebody who wants a true evolutionary
classification will recognize species whose character is established by
stabilizing natural selection (of plesiomorphies) as well as divergent
selection (of apomorphies).
David Wagner
Northwest Botanical Institute
Eugene, Oregon

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