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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.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

RE: BRYONET: local endemics


I rather follow David Wagner's idea:

"The only thing species seem have in common is our ability to recognize
them as nature recognizes them. This is an evolutionary species concept,
which I believe in. I believe species are the basic units upon which
natural selection acts." In my case, however, there are lots of studies
that show that belief may not be the right word, as it has baggage
concerning faith, but rather I have confidence in action that using
species both as a rank and to refer to groups "out there" is both useful
in everyday taxonomy and advances science in many fields.

So, promoting evolutionary basis for classification, species are, as a
rank, basic units of taxonomy, and there is no pre-established
definition for species as real entities, but we as taxonomists can make
hypotheses about why they seem integral, such as the biological species
concept for birds and higher mammals, and other concepts that may apply
to different groups or species. Even if every species were a special
case, the basic rank of species would be valuable and each species

Trying to define groups and ranks using unreal criteria (phylogenetic
monophyly) is bound to lead to nihilism. I can understand your
suggestion, Brent - that species as a rank be eliminated - only in this
context. One species, however, can be found in separate molecular
lineages (e.g. paraphyly). Renaming these as cryptic species or just
lumping all the taxa into one sweeps the phenomenon under the rug.

There is no problem with species for most taxonomists; it is an
artificial problem invented by phylogeneticists because their first
principle (axiom, maxim, slogan) of phylogenetic monophyly in
classification is on the face of it plain wrong. Species ranks and
concepts are your problem, Brent, not a major contention in systematics.

Promoting the first principle of phylogenetic monophyly is like
defending the Earth is flat by eliminating all data that concern
anything too far away, and relegating any reference to a spherical Earth
as "just stories" promoted to enhance cultural hegemony of an
established elite of superannuated and unnecessary oldsters. Time is
passing for all of us, though. Phylogenetic monophyly is not
evolutionary monophyly, it is arbitrary nonsense that creates problems
for phylogeneticists. With steely nerve, persistence, and some luck, at
least some phylogeneticists, I am sure, can surmount this problem.


Richard H. Zander
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
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St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
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