Mishler, Brent D. .
Finalizing the Phylocode: a discussion.
Most systematists now agree that, since life is organized as a hierarchy of phylogenetically nested groups, our formal biological classification system should be used to name monophyletic taxa. However, there still remains controversy about how to do this. Many researchers are resigned to using/modifying the existing codes of nomenclature to name monophyletic groups, but two major problems arise when attempting this (both stemming from the pre-evolutionary origin of these codes): (1) the impossibility of precisely specifying which clade is being named using only one type specimen, and (2) the incomparability of taxonomic ranks under an evolutionary worldview. While practicing systematists know that groups given the same rank across biology are not comparable in any way (i.e., in age, size, amount of divergence, diversity within, etc.), many users do not know this. The non-equivalence of ranks means that at best (to those who are knowledgeable) they are a meaningless formality. At worst, in the hands of someone who naively assumes groups at the same rank are comparable in some way, formal ranks can lead to bad science. Several other lesser (but still important) problems exist with the current codes as well, including the limited number of ranks available in comparison to the thousands of levels on the tree of life, and instability of names caused by the convention of priority within a rank. The Phylocode has been developed through a series of publications and meetings as an attempt to address these problems (while retaining many other unproblematic aspects of the current codes) to produce an truly phylogenetic classification system. The Phylocode, and its companion starting-point volume, are being prepared for publication (see draft at: http://www.ohiou.edu/phylocode/). Much controversy still exists, even within the Phylocode community, over a range of issues. This workshop will be an open discussion on all these issues.
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1 - University of California, Berkeley, Department of Integrative Biology, 1001 Valley Life Sciences Bldg. #2465, Berkeley, California, 94720-2465, USA
Presentation Type: Discussion Session
Location: Council Chambers/SUB
Date: Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Time: 1:00 PM