Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants
COMMENT AND RESPONSE

Paraphyly, modern systematics and the transfer of Dryandra into Banksia (Proteaceae): a response to George

K. R. Thiele A D , P. H. Weston B and A. R. Mast C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

B National Herbarium of New South Wales, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

C Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, 319 Stadium Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: kevin.thiele@dpaw.wa.gov.au

Australian Systematic Botany 28(3) 194-202 https://doi.org/10.1071/SB15015
Submitted: 28 April 2015  Accepted: 17 September 2015   Published: 13 November 2015

Abstract

The transfer of all species of Dryandra into Banksia in 2007, resulting from phylogenetic studies demonstrating that the latter is paraphyletic with respect to the former, generated controversy in some sections of the community. In a recent paper, Alex George, a taxonomist of long standing and monographer of both genera, criticised the transfer, and its subsequent acceptance by the Australian herbarium and plant systematics community. More broadly, George criticised the direction of modern taxonomy, particularly its basis in phylogenetic analysis and monophyly. His criticisms reflect adherence to a largely pre-Darwinian taxonomic tradition, methodology, practice and conceptual framework. This framework, developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and later operationalised as the phenetic method, has for most taxonomists been superseded by the phylogenetic framework for taxonomy developed by and following Willi Hennig. The criticism of the Dryandra transfer by George and colleagues on one hand, and its acceptance by the majority of practicing systematists on the other, is thus an example of competition between differing paradigms rather than George’s claimed specific shortcomings of the transfer or the analyses on which it was based.


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