Am I a Cladist?
jamm at nhm.ac.uk
Wed Feb 3 13:31:57 EST 1999
Joe Felsenstein wrote:
> A cladist could be:
> 1. A person who wants to make classifications, ones that contain only
> monophyletic (if you're Mayr and Ashlock "holophyletic") groups.
I think this is a taxonomic question and I'm less interested in taxonomy
that in phylogeny. Does this mean that I'm not a cladist. A
????phyletic group is something that has a name, like 'fish' or
'lithistid' or something like that. I'm almost willing to forego naming
names, I would even be in favour of an indexing system, with clades
called 1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, etc... Then we would never have a debate about
mono- para- or polyphyletic groups
I'm sure I'm alone on this one.
By the way, I'm quite happy with paraphyletic groups, but a little
uncomfortable with polyphyletic groups.
> 2. A person who makes groups by synapomorphies only.
O.K. Don't do this either.
> 3. A person who makes phylogenies using only parsimony.
Nope, not one of these.
> 4. A person who is interested in making phylogenies.
Aha, this is me, this is me.
> 5. A person who is a fully paid-up member of the Willi Hennig Society
> and accepts most of what is said from its podiums.
Quite unlikely to happen. I'm rather taken aback by peoples negative
views on the Willi society.
> Usually used with the adjective "raving". The second part of the
> definition excludes Norman Platnick and Gareth Nelson, who have lately
> been cast into the outer darkness.
Can you be cast into the outside? Sorry, just being pedantic, or should
I say pedantique? Ooops, maybe I am a cladist after all?!?!?
> 6. A person in systematics or molecular evolution who uses methods
> newer than the 1954 textbook I used in college.
> This is the popular science press definition. It goes along with
> statements that there is some new, mysterious, and powerful method
> called "cladistics" that allows us to discern the true tree.
I can tell you are being sarcastic here. Whyever for?
So, Am I a cladist? I think the answer is yes! (apologies for the
superflous exclamation mark). I want to uncover clades of organisms
that are each others closest relatives. It is probably not a bad thing
to recapture the name. It might be sensible, though to characterise the
type of cladist that I have become (you know how you have pattern
cladists, transformed cladists, blah, blah, blah), well I think I am a
phylogeneto-non-taxonomo-partitionistic cladist of the
distanco-likelihood school, or a 'pntp cladist dls'. Not very
parsimonious is it?
James O. McInerney,
Dept. of Zoology,
The Natural History Museum,
London SW7 5BD,
Phone +44 171 938 9163
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