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Friday, November 14, 2008

Classification discussion - naming clades

Subject: RE: BRYONET: Classification discussion
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2008 16:10:25 -0600
From: Richard Zander <>


Paul Wilson wrote to Ken Kellman:

"The problem (that our current taxa are not meant to be monophyletic and
often are not) already exists, and the phylocode + developing a good
rank-free classification would not CAUSE the problem; it would partially
alleviate a problem that already exists. You can't get rid of the
problem by ignoring it."
My own response: There is no problem, in my view, beyond
phylogeneticists wanting to name clades and needing to find ways to
modify and make use of present manner of naming taxa as a way to name
clades. That taxa are not meant to be monophyletic is not a problem
because they are meant to be evolutionary units (explanatory of
evolutionary theories) not monophyletic clades.

"Those of you who are concerned with not destroying the traditional
classification should be the biggest proponents of the Phylocode. Until
we have a phylocode, systematists will continue to wreck havoc on
traditional usages of names to try to make them correspond to clades
that they want names for."
My own response: Yes, yes, I agree that havoc should be avoided. Two
codes of classification might do this. On the other hand, unless you
split phylogeneticists from systematists, and I am one of the latter,
then I get to comment on the Phylocode as representative of a major bloc
of systematics researchers. The Phylocode classifies clades but does not
completely deal with evolutionary entities (splits evolutionary taxa and
ignores unique directions of evolution). To the extent that the
Phylocode represents systematic endeavor and fails to maximize
evolutionary information in classification, I demur, take exception, and

Richard H. Zander
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
Web sites:

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