Message 2001-06-0033: Subscribers

Mon, 30 Apr 2001 18:23:18 -0400

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Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 18:23:18 -0400
From: Scott Redhead <redheads@EM.AGR.CA>
Subject: Subscribers

Dear PhyloCode subscribers:

To the credit of the operators of this listserver, and of the PhyloCode =
web site, this forum is in the public domain.  Those who are sympathetic =
and also those that are unsympathetic to the idea of the PhyloCode are =
privy to the conversations.  Some active members perhaps have forgotten =
that it is an open discussion, or perhaps do not care. Currently there are =
96 subscribers, according to the when queried by =
*SEND/LIST PhyloCode* Selling the idea of the PhyloCode will be a hard =
sell. It would help your cause immensely if the discussions took place in =
a civilized manner, rather than *us* against *them* rhetoric. This should =
have been apparent when the Vice-Chairman of the St. Louis Code - =
International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (John McNeill) waded into the =

I am not convinced of the need for a new code, the PhyloCode, which is not =
to say that I am against cladistics. There will indeed be a tremendous =
backlash against the PhyloCode when it is truly put into effect. You =
should not deceive yourselves into thinking there will not be such a =
backlash.  I read the first draft of the PhyloCode released on the WWW, =
and do not think it will work. I am waiting to see an improved version so =
that we all can read the revised PhyloCode. I am also waiting to see if =
there are any papers actually citing or invoking articles in the PhyloCode,=
 especially when corrections or re-alignments of taxa are proposed. Thus =
far all I have seen are papers stating that the PhyloCode solves this =
problem or that problem in a vague or abstract way.

As some know, I wrote a commentary on the PhyloCode pointing out how =
ridiculous it was to eliminate species, and how confusing it would be to =
adopt uninomials based upon species epithets. Premature publication of =
such ideas, while serving a useful purpose, in that they can be examined =
and criticized, is seriously damaging the credibility of phylogenetists.

Those engaged in creating the PhyloCode may be wasting a lot of time =
re-inventing the wheel. Do you really have the time and resources to =
monitor all such names? Will a society be set up to validate the PhyloCode?=
 Who among you wishes to spend time indexing and registering all the =
names?  While those of you pushing forward these changes discuss such =
issues, others are pushing forward aligning new phylogenetic hypotheses =
with existing codes.  I know because I am doing it myself.

Recently I was impressed by the paper *Disintegration of the Scrophulariace=
ae* by Olmstead, DePamphilis, Wolke, Young, Elisons & Reeves (Amer. J. =
Bot. 88: 348-361. 2001). What struck me as imaginative was the melding of =
*PhyloCode* thinking with the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.=
 Some of the ideas behind the PhyloCode are quite good, but there seems to =
be no reason to have another Code. Olmstead created the *new* family, =
Calceolariaceae (G. Don) Raf. ex Olmstead, fam. et stat. nov. in a very =
traditional manner, citing a basionym, Calceolarieae G. Don, fulfilling =
all requirements for the ICBN.  However, they defined the taxon as =
follows, *Calceolariceae are the least inclusive clade that contains =
Calceolaria pinata, Porodittia triandra, and Jovellana violacea.*  There =
was of course, a fuller discussion of characters.

Interestingly enough, none of those 3 named taxa, the types of their =
generic names (ICBN), were actually in their analyses. The depicted  =
*clade* labelled Calceolariaceae, had only two representatives, labelled =
Calceolaria mexicana and Jovellana sp. It can certainly be asked what =
clade was named, especially if the named indicators taxa prove not to be =
monophyletic as a group. Nonetheless, I think it was acceptable for them =
to handle the situation in this way. To me, the newly raised family name =
remains with the type for the generic basionym, even if Porodittia =
triandra goes into another family.  I mentioned this clever example to a =
botanist (I*m a mycologist). He thought that it was not proper to mix old =
ICBN with PhyloCode thinking, and that it was cheating using taxa not =
included in the molecular analysis.  I disagreed. But I also do not =
currently support the PhyloCode. In the end, I think that higher taxa =
(especially among microorganisms like fungi) will only be defined by such =
circumscriptions, but bearing standard ICBN  names, not replacement =
PhyloCode names.

Richard Olmstead pointed out to me that they chose to use the name =
Veronicaceae (the oldest name available), in lieu of names such as =
Plantaginaceae (in contradiction with the current ICBN) for another =
family. Plantaginaceae is a conserved name. It turns out that flowering =
plants are treated differently from fungi in the ICBN. There are unwanted =
and unanticipated problems with the current ICBN because of the way plant =
names are listed. Resolving these problems will require some changes.  =
Despite these problems, their paper will be taken seriously because the =
authors have attempted to merge the old with the new. I see it as a useful =
use of time and energy. I am still not convinced of the need for a =
PhyloCode, but am keeping my mind and options open.  I am also pushing =
ahead to get on with the job of making the ICBN work in the face of the =
exciting new discoveries.

Please keep in mind that there are skeptics listening in, but ones with =
open minds.=20

Scott A. Redhead, Ph.D.
Curator - National Mycological Herbarium (DAOM)
Systematic Mycology & Botany
Wm. Saunder's Bldg. (#49), CEF
Eastern Cereal & Oilseed Research Centre
Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C6
ph. (613) 759-1384  ---  FAX (613) 759-1599
Associate Editor: Mycologia  --  Editor: Mycological Research


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