News from IAB

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.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Re: BRYONET: local endemics

Hi all,
Looks like I missed another interesting debate on Bryonet while I was
making my way home from the South Pacific. At the risk of stirring it
up again, here are a couple of points clarifying my point of view:
1. As my friend Jon Shaw suggests, I do think all formally named taxa
(including species if you like Linnaean ranks) should be monophyletic
as far as we can tell. But I will freely admit that other interesting
biological entities such as potentially interbreeding groups,
ecologically unified groups, cytologically or genetically similar
groups, etc., are important yet often non-monophyletic. The essence
of modern evolutionary biology is examining such functional groupings
in the context of history (i.e., monophyletic groups).
2. The biggest confusion comes from expecting (and forcing) a
fundamental level corresponding to the traditional species rank (where
functional and historical criteria have been maximally confounded).
If we face the truth, that there is no such thing as "species" or
"speciation", we can move ahead in bryology. There are endemic
monophyletic groups in bryophytes -- let's study those without
worrying whether they should be called "species" -- a sterile exercise
anyway, as Darwin knew. Attached are proofs of an "in press" paper on
this subject. The reference is: Species are not uniquely real
biological entities. In F. Ayala and R. Arp (eds.), Contemporary
Debates in Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell.
Best,
Brent
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Brent D. Mishler
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Director, University and Jepson Herbaria
Mailing address:
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
UNIVERSITY AND JEPSON HERBARIA
1001 VALLEY LIFE SCIENCES BLDG # 2465
BERKELEY, CA 94720-2465 USA
Phone: (510) 642-6810
FAX: (510) 643-5390
WWW: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/people/mishler.html
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