Message 2001-02-0047: Problems with the PhyloCode? [Re: your mail]

Fri, 09 Feb 2001 09:22:46 -0600 (CST)

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Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 09:22:46 -0600 (CST)
From: znc14@TTACS.TTU.EDU
To: "Janovec, John" <>
Cc: "''" <>
Subject: Problems with the PhyloCode? [Re: your mail]

	Dr. Janovec wrote:
On Fri, 9 Feb 2001, Janovec, John wrote:
> If we freeze names of clades based on current phylogenetic understanding (or
> misunderstanding), then what happens when the phylogenies change?  The names

	This is a MAJOR problem, but not one with the PhyloCode. Some
recent explorations of phylogenetic nomenclature have proceeded from
what I call the "describing MY tree" persepctive, and this is certainly a
poorly thought out. Phylogenetic nomenclatural schema should be
constructed so as to maximally reconcile traditional nomenclature and
changing concepts of taxonomy, a point abundantly reflected in the Code.
	The phylocode has many provisions (such as multiple
specifiers, qualifying clauses) to allow the application of nomenclature
in areas of poor phylogenetic resolution. If there is indeed NO
phylogenetic information avialable, it may be preferrable to not name
higher groups formally, and only use them in an informal context until
more work is performed.
	As others have noted, one of the important "innovations" of the
PhyloCode is that you do not HAVE to name taxa until you are ready to. You
are not obligated to arrange everything into orders just because you find
one "superfamilial" group (whatever that is) in one part of your tree.
This "relaxed" attitude to nomenclature is apparently very attractive to
neontologists. For paleontologists, the elimination of formal ranks is
equally attractive, because it means we eventually *won't* have to
worry about making our genera the "equivalents" of modern genera.
	As for "rank free," well, let's just say that, in the abandonment
formal ranks, we allow the natural heriarchy of phylogeny to freely extert
itself. If this is rank, so be it. As for "stability is ignorance," well,
it always has been, ever since Darwin. As I said before, Linneaus has been
dead for centuries. Changing ideas of phylogeny dooms us to changing
taxonomic content. This is why, for Phylognenetic Nonclature, stability is
measured in terms of whether a name always refers to the same entity, not
whether or not it always contains the same taxa. The expectation of
constant clade composition *IS* ignorance.

	Hope this helps,


P.S. And, for the record, ANY nomenclature which exclusively recognizes
monophyletic "taxa" is, BY DEFINITION, a "node-pointing system." The
difrerence is whether the formula (defintion) used to point out the node
is explicit or a holdover form typological concepts of nomenclature.	


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