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Systematics and philosophy of science: some suggested readings

This is a developing post related to a prior entry on cladistic character coding. “Systematic philosophy”, naturally (in a historical science), is a rich topic with influential contributions from various competing philosophical schools such as empiricism or realism. Often these contributions acknowledge their heritage openly, however this is not always the case.

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Weekly reading: Nature of cladistic data

By popular demand, the Spring 2014 weekly lab discussion series will focus on the theory and practice of coding cladistic characters, and where and why this remains an essential task of systematics. This is a broad theme that has been treated by many authors and from different perspectives. We will start with a paper that is rife with issues that merit a more nuanced discussion; but at the same time reflects a suite of topics and positions advocated in the mid t0 late 1980s when the 1st- to 2nd-generation cladistic software packages (such as Hennig86) were in use.

Pimentel, R.A. & R. Riggins. 1987. The nature of cladistic data. Cladistics 3: 201-209. Available on-line here.

Announcing The Weevil Course 2014

From August 05-13, 2014, the second installment of The Weevil Course will be held at the wonderful AMNH Southwestern Research Station located in the Chiricahua Mountains, Portal, Arizona. Applications can be received through the SWRS course website. Photos from the 2012 Course are posted here.

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Weevil Course 2012 Instructors: Greg Setliff, Nico Franz, Anthony Cognato, Robert Anderson, and Charles O’Brien.


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Weekly reading: Wiens on why biogeography matters

This week’s reading, our last for the Fall 2013 semester, will again tackle the relationships between different short- to longer-term time scales and ‘proper’ methods in historical biogeography. And why this matters. Hopefully an apt ending to the semester’s suite of papers. Leading candidate topics for next semester are character coding, inference methods and their conceptual underpinnings, and comparative phylogenetic methods. To be decided on soon.

Wiens, J.J. 2012. Why biogeography matters: historical biogeography vs. phylogeography and community phylogenetics for inferring ecological and evolutionary processes. Frontiers of Biogeography 4(3): 1-8. Available on-line here.

2013 entomology collections – some highlights posted

Here are – all posted with kind permission – some photos of the student collections submitted as part of this year’s General Entomology course. The collections shown were among the most diverse, and/or well presented final submissions (however the line-up is far from complete). Students had to accumulate 100 insect specimens, curate them properly, and identify each specimen to the level of family.  Congratulations!

Preparing interactive keys in SCAN

This post is in development, and using the relevant links requires specific contributor access rights [read: presently only for internal group use].

  1. SCAN homepage
  2. Key character creation & editing
  3. Creating key character headings
  4. Coding characters – mass updating
  5. Coding characters for a specific checklist
  6. Arthropods of North America Checklist

More developments soon.

InsectARium: Seeking Learning App Evaluators

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If you have access to or own an iPad, iPhone, Android, or tablet, then you can be a learning app evaluator! Go here for more information on how you can help.

Or utilize the quick links to the Insectarium DEMO Instructions and Survey.