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Weekly reading: Rieppel on the performance of morphological characters

Last week we saw that coding inapplicables is tricky; essentially one must understand the limitations of the ‘square matrix’ and utilize reductive coding in such a way that logical and biological dependencies inherent in homology assessments are not distorted by the way in which global parsimony optimization occurs. We also saw a shift from a rather clear-cut stance about the boundaries between data and inference, to a more qualified position where inferences derived from an initial matrix and analysis should caution one to re-examine ‘the evidence’. Taking this dethroning of primary observations several steps further, next week we are reading:

Rieppel, O. 2007. The performance of morphological characters in broad-scale phylogenetic analyses. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 92: 297–308. Available here. 

Suffice to say I hold a deep admiration towards Olivier Rieppel’s scholarship on the philosophy/systematics interface. What he formulates in this and other papers is a path to renew our focus on what sound homology assessments are, and what they can offer to comparative biology. Arguably the strongest theme of the central European tradition in systematics.

My Anatomy paper was in no small part motivated by Rieppel (2007).

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