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Posts tagged ‘systematics’

Systematics today: Why study comparative (insect) morphology

A New Year’s post whose motivation derives in part from an engaging discussion of a paper by Wright & Hillis 2014 we had during the past Fall semester. As I recall, we concurred that the paper was adequately executed in terms of running from premises to methods to conclusions. But we also thought (well, at least some of us) that it is yet another part of an unfortunate legacy in our field that tends to separate issues of ‘generating good evidence’ from issues of ‘identifying the right method of inference’. Lots of simulations were carried out when the matrix and characters in question were taken as is and essentially invisible.

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New course – Spring 2015: Current topics in systematics

Short announcement – we will continue our now formally offered Weekly Discussion sessions during the Spring 2015 Semester, in the format of a 1-credit “Current Topics in Systematics” seminar/course with a double billing as either BIO 494 (undergraduate level) or EVO 598 (graduate level). Wednesdays, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, seminar room pending. Ontologies and reasoning are part of the envisioned themes to explore. Hoping for good turnout and discussions. ASU’s Course Catalogue is available on-line here.

Knowledge Representation in Systematic Biology – Edited book proposal seeking comments, contributions

I have an opportunity to edit a new book in the series “Species and Systematics” (originally UC Press; now CRC Press). The draft outline is below, but is subject to change and expansion as deemed appropriate.

I am looking for suggestions, and for potential contributors (naturally, while reserving standard/common sense rights to kindly accept or decline). The book will to collect a number of strong, diverse chapters on various projects and directions in this still very young field. Lead authors of chapters will coordinate with co-authors as preferred. I also intend to give authors much freedom to do and say things they maybe could not express using different publication outlets (while keeping things fair and high-minded).

Another key issue is (of course) – who may have time and motivation to contribute an original and impactful chapter in the coming six months? Either way, I am open to suggestions, contact me on- or off-line.

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BIGCB Workshop at UC Berkeley: Tackling the Taxon Concept Problem

November 7-9, 2014. Coolest workshop theme, like, ever. Organized by Brent Mishler and Staci Markos of the UC Berkeley Jepson Herbarium.

Understanding Taxon Ranges in Space and Time: Tackling the Taxon Concept Problem

A Workshop Sponsored by the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology

Friday, November 7, 2014, 1002 VLSB, open to all who are interested.

1:00 pm: Brent Mishler  –  Introduction to the themes and goals of this workshop.

1:10 pm: Edward Gilbert  –  Ideas for incorporating taxonomic concepts into Symbiota.

1:40 pm: Robert Guralnick  –  Map of Life and the challenge of heterogeneous names data for determining species ranges.

2:10 pm: Gaurav Vaidya  –  Tracking taxonomic changes: how, where and why, with examples from the Avibase database of taxon concepts. Link & PDF

2:40 pm: Coffee Break.

3:00 pm: Robert Peet  –  Taxon concepts as essential infrastructure for large-scale data integration: lessons from VegBank, SEEK and BIEN. PDF

3:30 pm: Nico Franz  –  Tracking taxonomic change across classifications and phylogenies. PDF

4:00 pm: Alan Weakley  –  Applying concept maps to 7100 vascular plants of the Southeastern United States, and some thoughts on ‘atomic concepts’ and their utility at the specimen level.  PDF

4:30 pm: Nico Cellinese  –  Thoughts on the right approach to query trees based on phyloreferences (ontologized phylogenetic definitions).


Additional Workshop Notes

  • Communicated by Robert Peet  –  Taxonomic concept infrastructure-related entities requiring identifiers. PDF

New postdoctoral position in revisionary insect systematics

We are excited to have the opportunity to recruit a new postdoc into our lab. This is ASU job # 10742; please contact me (details below) if you are interested in applying.

Postdoctoral Researcher – Revisionary Insect Systematics
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

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Weekly reading: Brady on the independence of systematics

Up next week, following Rieppel’s (2007) nuanced dissection of the limits of ‘direct reference’ (Kripke’s causal theory) and emerging lessons for comparative morphologists, we shall pivot to one of the more influential and sophisticated expositions of a pattern-centric view. Ronald Brady played a sometimes under-appreciated role in conversing and shaping views with cladists at the American Museum of Natural History starting in the late 1970s.

Brady, R.H. 1985. On the independence of systematics. Cladistics 1: 113-126. Availaible here.

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: Diversification patterns in the Mediterranean tenebrionid genus Blaps

Another weekly reading, an empirical paper focusing on a Mediterrranean tenebrionid beetle radiation – genus Blaps Fabricius – using the DEC model by Ree et al. Reference: Condamine, F.L., L. Laurent Soldati, A.-L. Clamens, J.-Y. Rasplus & G.J. Kergoat. 2013. Diversification patterns and processes of wingless endemic insects in the Mediterranean Basin: historical biogeography of the genus Blaps (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Journal of Biogeography 40: 1899–1913. Available here.

This paper’s group leader Gael Kergoat participated in the Third International Tenebrionoidea Symposium held earlier this year at ASU.