Friday, April 9, 2010

Sophophora melanogaster: Next steps

After some nights of sleep, I have come to the conclusion that moving forward with splitting the genus is the only sensible thing to do. The longer we wait with renaming Drosophila melanogaster, the more complex the situation is going to be. The graphic representations of the paraphyletic genus Drosophila that are circulating around the internet are only a dressed down version, in that they ignore a substantial part of the paraphyly (aka, it looks not as bad as it actually is):

Well, here is the full story:

Once we get Sophophora melanogaster out of the way, there is not a real hold-up for further taxonomic revisions, and the field won't be longer hold hostage by the Sophophora melanogaster problem but individual researchers can actually do their revisions.


jas said...

Siglind, jolly interesting problem! But I think you SLIGHTLY misrepresent the opinions of the commission.

They said I think not that "paraphyly doesn't matter", but that this is a nomenclature issue, not a taxonomic philosophy issue, and the two should not be mixed. Almost all of them would agree that paraphyly DOES matter, but that's not the problem they were addressing in their decision.

The nomenclatural code is probably right to be free of taxonomic philosophy, don't you think? That's why it's clearly going to last longer than the ill-fated phylocode.

The ICZN code is anyway only voluntary. You could always put in another application, after publishing a paper on the taxonomy. If you wanted, you could go ahead and argue for the funebris group to be provisionally the genus Funebris or something, and for the Sophophora group including melanogaster to be conserved as Drosophila. Given it's controversial and your opinion, you will probably get it published -- depending on reviewers.

But personally I can't see anything wrong with Drosophilidae: Sophophora: melanogaster, when at the moment we anyway have Drosophilidae: Drosophila: (Sophophora): melanogaster. It's still obvious that they're the same thing.

Siglind said...

I agree, the code should be free of what classification system to use. Just as it should not decide what phylogeny is correct and which one is incorrect. The only question they should have answered is whether renaming Drosophila melanogaster (and the related species) causes so much instability that conserving the name is better.

Personally, I actually like Sophophora melanogaster, so just bring it on......