Rooted in Cladistics: Chris Humphries, Conservation—and Beyond?

Richard I. Vane-Wright

in Beyond Cladistics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267725
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947993 | DOI:
Rooted in Cladistics: Chris Humphries, Conservation—and Beyond?

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The various contributions that Chris Humphries made to the biodiversity conservation movement during the early 1990s were literally and severally “rooted in cladistics.” Soon after finishing his PhD, Humphries arrived in the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum, London. At that time, the author was very interested in coevolution — he wanted to try to understand the evolution of mimicry by comparing cladograms for mimetic butterflies, their models, and their host plants. Humphries's contributions to what became cladistics soon far outstripped the author's own — and have done so ever since. Humphries and the author got together right at the end of the 1980s, to refine and develop the notion of “critical faunas analysis.” The two men felt they had the beginnings of what Robert May (1990) called for: a “calculus of biodiversity.” Humphries proposed a variant in which terms and components were combined to reflect, very simply and elegantly, the number of taxonomic statements that could be made about each terminal taxon represented in a cladogram (or hierarchical classification).

Keywords: Chris Humphries; cladistics; biodiversity; conservation; Natural History Museum; coevolution; critical faunas analysis; terms; components; hierarchical classification

Chapter.  7140 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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