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The Future of Systematics: Tree-Thinking Without the Tree

Velasco, Joel D. (2012) The Future of Systematics: Tree-Thinking Without the Tree. [Preprint]

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    Phylogenetic trees are meant to represent the genealogical history of life and apparently derive their justification from the existence of the tree of life and the fact that evolutionary processes are tree-like. However, there are a number of problems for these assumptions. Here it is argued that once we understand the important role that phylogenetic trees play as models which contain idealizations, we can accept these criticisms and deny the reality of the tree while justifying the continued use of trees in phylogenetic theory and preserving nearly all of what defenders of trees have called “the importance of tree-thinking.”

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: idealization, model, phylogenetic, systematics, tree of life
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
    Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
    General Issues > Models and Idealization
    Depositing User: Joel Velasco
    Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2012 15:42
    Last Modified: 10 Jul 2012 15:42
    Item ID: 9215
    Official URL:

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