Biological Systematics: The state of the art

Biological Systematics: The state of the art

by Alessandro Minelli


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To some potential readers of this book the description of Biological System­ atics as an art may seem outdated and frankly wrong. For most people art is subjective and unconstrained by universal laws. While one picture, play or poem may be internally consistent comparison between different art products is meaningless except by way of the individual artists. On the other hand modern Biological Systematics - particularly phenetics and cladistics - is offered as objective and ultimately governed by universal laws. This implies that classifications of different groups of organisms, being the products of systematics, should be comparable irrespective of authorship. Throughout this book Minelli justifies his title by developing the theme that biological classifications are, in fact, very unequal in their expressions of the pattern and processes of the natural world. Specialists are imbibed with their own groups and tend to establish a consensus of what constitutes a species or a genus, or whether it should be desirable to recognize sub­ species, cultivars etc. Ornithologists freely recognize subspecies and rarely do bird genera contain more than 10 species. On the other hand some coleopterists and botanists work with genera with over 1500 species. This asymmetry may reflect a biological reality; it may express a working practicality, or simply an historical artefact (older erected genera often contain more species). Rarely are these phenomena questioned.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780412626203
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Publication date: 09/30/1994
Edition description: 1993
Pages: 406
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

One: Problems and Methods.- 1 Systems and classifications.- 1.1 Systematics and taxonomy.- 1.2 Classification versus system.- 1.3 Biological classifications from Andrea Cesalpino to the New Systematics.- 1.4 Evolutionary systematics.- 1.5 Numerical taxonomy.- 1.6 Hennig’s phylogenetic systematics.- 1.7 Contrasting systematic schools.- 1.8 Towards a natural system of living organisms.- 2 Some steps in comparative biology.- 2.1 Characters as ‘symptoms’ for recognizing taxa.- 2.2 Characters for choice.- 2.3 Homology.- 2.4 Homoplasy.- 2.5 Character coding.- 2.6 Monophyly, paraphyly, polyphyly.- 2.7 Determining character polarity.- 2.8 Cladograms and trees.- 2.9 Numerical methods for the reconstruction of phylogeny.- 2.10 Ancestors.- 2.11 Fossils and cladistic analysis.- 2.12 Grouping and ranking.- 2.13 Phylogeny versus adaptation.- 3 Biochemical and molecular systematics.- 3.1 Micromolecules.- 3.2 Macromolecules.- 4 The species.- 4.1 Species concepts.- 4.2 Taxonomic diversity within the species.- 4.3 Hybrids.- 4.4 Speciation.- 5 Resources and media.- 5.1 Human resources.- 5.2 Institutions.- 5.3 Literature.- 5.4 Nomenclature.- Two: The State of the Art.- 6 The inventory of natural diversity.- 6.1 How many species do we know?.- 6.2 Continuing discovery.- 6.3 How many species are still to be discovered?.- 7 Towards the system.- 7.1 Kingdoms and phyla.- 7.2 ‘Prokaryotes’.- 7.3 The major groups of eukaryotes.- 7.4 Fungi.- 7.5 ‘Protists’.- 7.6 Metazoans.- 7.7 Placozoans.- 7.8 Sponges.- 7.9 Cnidarians.- 7.10 Ctenophorans.- 7.11 Platyhelminths.- 7.12 Gnathostomulids.- 7.13 Mesozoans.- 7.14 Aschelminths.- 7.15 Pogonophorans.- 7.16 Annelids.- 7.17 Molluscs.- 7.18 Arthropods, excluding insects.- 7.19 Insects.- 7.20 Onychophorans, tardigrades and pentastomids.- 7.21 Bryozoans, brachiopods and phoronids.- 7.22 Deuterostomes, excluding chordates.- 7.23 Chordates, excluding vertebrates.- 7.24 Vertebrates.- 7.25 Green plants, excluding angiosperms.- 7.26 Angiosperms.- 8 Interviews on the daily work of systematists: problems and trends.- 8.1 Specialist groups as natural groups.- 8.2 Genera.- 8.3 Species.- 8.4 Infraspecific taxa.- 8.5 Characters.- 8.6 From field work to monograph.- 9 The unequal distribution of taxonomic diversity.- 9.1 The very large genera.- 9.2 Size distributions of higher taxa.- 10 Domesticated animals and cultivated plants.- 10.1 Taxonomy and nomenclature of domesticated animals.- 10.2 Taxonomy and nomenclature of cultivated plants.- Three: Epilogue.- 11 Some dangerous trends, and a hope for the future.- Appendices.- 1 Zoological checklists and catalogues.- 2 Möhn’s (1984) general classification of living organisms.- 3 ‘Provisional classification’ of the Protista, according to Corliss.- 4 Phyla and classes of the Protoctista (Corliss’ Protista) according to Margulis et al (1990).- 5 Möhn’s (1984) classification of animals.- 6 Nielsen’s (1985) classification of the Animalia.- 7 Ehlers’s (1985) system of Plathelminthes.- 8 Jamieson’s (1988) system of the Oligochaeta.- 9 Salvini-Plawen’s (1980) classification of the Phylum Mollusca.- 10 Haszprunar’s (1986) classification of gastropods.- 11 Weygoldt and Paulus’s (1979) system of the Chelicerata.- 12 Shultz’s (1990) system of the Chelicerata.- 13 Schram’s (1986) classification of the Crustacea.- 14 Starobogatov’s (1988) classification of the Crustacea.- 15 Hennig’s (1969) system of the Insecta.- 16 Hennig’s (1985) system of the Chordata.- 17 The major groups of Chordata according to Nelson (1969).- 18 Rosen et al.’s (1981) classification of gnathostome vertebrates.- 19 Carroll’s (1987) classification of vertebrates, including both.- extinct and living forms.- 20 Lauder and Liem’s (1983) classification of living bony fishes.- 21 Sibley and Ahlquist’s (1990) classification of birds.- 22 Bremer’s (1985) cladistic classification of green plants.- 23 Dahlgren’s (1989a,b) classification of the flowering plants.- References.- Author index.- Taxonomic index.

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