Chapter

: Do We Need to Describe, Name, and Classify all Species?

Quentin D. Wheeler

in Beyond Cladistics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267725
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947993 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520267725.003.0004
: Do We Need to Describe, Name, and Classify all Species?

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Ernest Rutherford was more candid about his bias than most experimental biologists are in sharing their view of taxonomy. Experimental biologists do want to collect every species, but the similarity stops there. Their motive is to explore unique characters and all their subsequent modifications through evolutionary history, to determine what they mean in terms of species, relative recency of common ancestry among species, and as the basis for informative and predictive classifications. Taxonomists ask some of the most basic, important, and interesting questions about biodiversity: What are species? What species exist? What is the history of the origin and transformation of their characters? What are their phylogenetic relationships? What are their distributions? And how are they predictively and most informatively classified? Chris Humphries has made superb descriptive taxonomic and anatomical contributions, advanced the theories needed to analyze characters and complete cladistic analyses, proposed innovative tools to use evolutionary history to set conservation priorities, transformed historical biogeography, and served as a constant source of support and encouragement to his colleagues and generations of students.

Keywords: Chris Humphries; taxonomy; experimental biologists; evolutionary history; species; biodiversity; distributions; biogeography; phylogenetic relationships

Chapter.  3569 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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