The use of hierarchies as organizational models in systematics

1998 Biological Journal of the Linnean Society  
A hierarchy is an abstract organizational model of inter-level relationships among entities. When isomorphic with nature, hierarchies are useful for organizing and manipulating our knowledge. Hierarchies have been used in biological systematics to represent several distinct, but interrelated, facets of the evolution of life with different organizational properties, and these distinctions have been confused by the rubric 'the hierarchy of life'. Evolution, as descent with modification, is
more » ... tly dualistic. The organizational structure of a hierarchy can be used to represent dualistic properties as inter-level relationships. Cladistics is monistic, with a singular focus on patterns of descent. Descent has conceptual priority over modification, but the organizational relationship is not exclusive. 'Cladistic classification' is an oxymoron because cladistics lacks the class concepts needed to construct a classification, a point recognized by those who suggest abandoning Linnaean classification in favour of a newly devised monophyletic systematization. Cladistic analysis of descent can be supplemented with an analysis of modification that provides the class concepts needed to construct an evolutionary/phylogenetic classification. When a strong monophyletic pattern of modification is detected (in addition to its monophyletic pattern of descent), the criterion of subsequent modification provides the basis for formally recognizing a certain monophyletic group at a given rank, as opposed to a group that is one node more inclusive or one node less. The criterion of subsequent modification also permits detection of strong paraphyletic patterns of modification, when they exist. By setting standards of evidence needed to recognize paraphyletic groups, one concomitantly strengthens the basis for formally recognizing selective monophyletic groups.
doi:10.1006/bijl.1997.0181 fatcat:yzuefuysbfdyvobg56zf43pgpa