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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Re: BRYONET: local endemics


Hi John,

Honestly, I and others have addressed your questions a & b frequently
in the literature (some would say ad nauseam!). No point in repeating
it all here. The Phylocode, just like the current system is
hierarchical, for sure. But there are no labels (ranks) attached to
the levels.

There are two kinds of hierarchies, in general: unranked and ranked.
Most human knowledge is organized into hierarchies, where the ranked
type is the more unusual. The latter makes sense when the entities at
a particular level are comparable, as in the military where majors
need to know where they stand with other officers regardless of where
they travel. But unranked hierarchies make more sense when the
entities at a level are not comparable in any way, and our mind deals
quite well with them everyday. Educated people learn the nestedness
of hierarchies easily (e.g., "cheese" is nested in "dairy products"
and then in "food", while "cheddar" is nested within "cheese") -- no
ranks needed.

In an unranked biological classification we would use higher-level
names to orient readers as to the placement of uninomials, just as we
do now (e.g., you often give higher-level taxonomic names in general
papers). To take your example, if it was clear in context we were
talking about clade Mimulus I would just say "your Breweri picture
looks to me like Bigelowii." If it was a more general context I would
say "Breweri (Mimulus)" to be clear. If it was a really general
context, e.g., a book being read by general biologist who might not
know where Mimulus fits, I would say "Breweri (Mimulus;
Angiospermae)", etc. Homonyms are not a problem in normal
conversation; if there are several Johns in the picture. you use their
last name to distinguish them.

But all this is in the literature, which I strongly advise interested
parties to go from here. An email thread is not the best way to share
information. As suggested earlier in this thread, a good place to
start is the paper by Kirsten Fisher [Systematic Botany (2006), 31(1):
pp. 13–30]. For a higher-level example in bryology, see: Bryologist
110(1): 46-73.



Brent D. Mishler
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Director, University and Jepson Herbaria
Mailing address:
BERKELEY, CA 94720-2465 USA
Phone: (510) 642-6810
FAX: (510) 643-5390
Bryonet is a service of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB)
and is administered by Janice Glime <>
through Michigan Technological University
IAB Officers:
President Jeff Duckett <>
Secretary-Treasurer Jim Shevock <>
First VP: Masanobu Higuchi, Second VP: Jiri Vana
To join IAB ($11 per year), contact Jim Shevock <>
IAB website:

No comments:

Post a Comment