Am I a Cladist?

Guy Hoelzer hoelzer at
Mon Feb 1 20:19:25 EST 1999

In article <795cg5$rou at>, "James McInerney, Zoology"
<jamm at> wrote:

> Now, although I use distance matrix methods [SNIP], I still think that my 
> prime motivation is to discover 
> clades of organisms/sequences.  Therefore I am a cladist.
> What are the origins of the word cladist and can I use it in my .sig file?

I think your question is sure to elicit some disagreement among readers,
but I will be happy to give you my 2 cents.  I believe the term
cladistics, and hence the term cladist, came into common usage with
Hennig.  Therefore, these terms became associated with a particular
approach to discovering clades, not just the general pursuit of them. 
That approach, of course, is through the identification of synapomorphies,
which is not a product of distance matrix methods.  Therefore, I would not
say that you are a cladist.  I hope you can be content with the title
"phylogeneticist" which, although awkward, means to me everything you want
to convey without so much historical/semantic baggage.

Guy Hoelzer
Department of Biology
University of Nevada Reno
Reno, NV  89557

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