- "It is not the purpose here to summarise the various viewpoints but a need to consider what we want from a classification is inescapable. Cavalier-Smith (1998) has given a useful discussion. One bone of contention in recent decades has been whether or not to allow the use of paraphyletic taxa in classification. A paraphyletic taxon is a monophyletic group that does not contain all the descendents (derivatives) of that group. One of the best-known examples is that of Reptilia, nominally a class of Chordata. Since it is agreed that birds (nominally class Aves) have a reptilian ancestor, and Reptilia by convention does not include Aves, then Reptilia is a paraphyletic group. But paraphyletic groups potentially abound at all levels of the taxonomic hierarchy. Indeed, there are many thousands of taxa where it is not yet known if they are paraphyletic (including some of the descendants) or holophyletic (including all of the descendants). Cavalier-Smith's classical understanding of monophyly is pragmatic, including both paraphyletic and holophyletic groups. On this understanding, Reptilia + Aves [+ Mammalia] is holophyletic whereas Reptilia alone is merely paraphyletic; either way, both are monophyletic" (Gordon, 2009, Online).
The draft manuscript is a typical protest for paraphyletic groups commonly made by evolutionary taxonomists in places like Taxon or Taxacom. The usual comments are made such as plea for 'traditional Darwinian classification' and confusing cladistics with phylogenetic classification. I do hope that the problem of paraphyly is not over-looked in the final manuscript. Who am I kidding? Of course it will!
Malte C. Ebach
Gordon DP (2009). Towards a management hierarchy (classification) for the Catalogue of Life: Draft Discussion Document. In Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2009 Annual Checklist (Bisby FA, Roskov YR, Orrell TM, Nicolson D, Paglinawan LE, Bailly N, Kirk PM, Bourgoin T, Baillargeon G., eds). CD-ROM; Species 2000: Reading, UK.