Paraphyly, ancestors, and the goals of taxonomy: a botanical defense of cladism

TitleParaphyly, ancestors, and the goals of taxonomy: a botanical defense of cladism
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1988
AuthorsDonoghue MJ, Cantino PD
JournalBotanical Review
Volume54
Pagination107-128
ISSN00068101
KeywordsBiological Sciences, Botany & Plant Sciences
Abstract

Cronquist (1987) criticizes cladism for its rejection of paraphyletic groups, which he would retain if he feels they are ’conceptually useful.’ We argue that paraphyletic higher taxa are artificial classes created by taxonomists who wish to emphasize particular characters or phenetic ’gaps,’ and that formal recognition of such taxa conveys a misleading picture of common ancestry and character evolution. In our view, classifications should accurately reflect the nested hierarchy of monophyletic groups that is the natural outcome of the evolutionary process. Such systems facilitate the study of evolution and provide an efficient summary of character distributions. Paraphyletic groups, such as ’prokaryotes,’ ’green algae,’ ’bryophytes,’ and ’gymnosperms,’ should be abandoned, as continued recognition of such groups will only serve to retard progress in understanding evolution. Contrary to Cronquist’s (1987) assertions, cladistic theory is not at odds with standard views on speciation and

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