Locality data

Hannon othonna@gmail.com
Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:09:41 PDT
Hi All,

I think a number of basic concepts are being conflated here. A
*biological*understanding of a species or group attempts to shed light
on genetics,
reproductive behavior, autecology, synecology and other considerations.
Such an understanding is broadly based and has many potential insights and

The *phylogenetic* study of a group (not an individual) seeks to answer
questions about relationships within that group-- species in a genus,
genera in a family-- and with other presumably related groups. The goal of
such study is to elucidate evolutionary histories and mechanisms.

A *taxonomic* effort, that which perhaps concerns PBS members most, is
strictly concerned with ordering available information into a useful scheme
of classification so that we may communicate about a given group or
species. Taxonomic schemes today seek to reflect phylogeny as closely as
possible but this may bring vexing difficulties such as whether to
recognize paraphyly or not. Naming plants is a subset of taxonomy.

DNA or molecular studies are not a magic salve for any of these
disciplines. To suggest that life itself is nothing more than a brilliant
DNA soup is rather nihilistic and might easily be construed as suggesting
that any particular life form, or life itself, has no importance in the
scheme of things. In other words, a consideration of life without any
meaning from a scientific perspective. This becomes a critical topic as we
are better able to manipulate genes and create new organisms.


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