A Philosophical Critique of Philogenetic Systematics

Zander, R. H. 2010 [2011]. Structuralism in Phylogenetic Systematics. Biological Theory 5: 383-394. [Abstract:] Systematics based solely on structuralist principles is nonscience because it is derived from first principles that are inconsistent in dealing with both synchronic and diachronic aspects of evolution, and its evolutionary models involve hidden causes, and unnamable and unobservable entities. Structuralist phylogenetics emulates axiomatic mathematics through emphasis on deduction, and "hypotheses" and "mapped trait changes" that are actually lemmas and theorems. Sister-group only evolutionary trees have no caulistic element of scientific realism. This results in a degenerate systematics based on patterns of fact or evidence being treated as so fundamental that all other data may be mapped to the cladogram, resulting in an apparently well-supported classification that is devoid of evolutionary theory. Structuralism in systematics is based on a non-ultrametric analysis of sister-group informative data that cannot detect or model a named taxon giving rise to a named taxon, resulting in classifications that do not reflect macroevolutionary changes unless they are sister lineages. Conservation efforts are negatively affected through epistemological extinction of scientific names. Evolutionary systematics is a viable alternative, involving both deduction and induction, hypothesis and theory, developing trees with both synchronic and diachronic dimensions often inferring nameable ancestral taxa, and resulting in classifications that advance evolutionary theory and explanations for particular groups.

Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 - registration closing July 1

Registration and abstract submission for the ΓΆβ?¬Ε?Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 ΓΆβ?¬" new data, newchallenges" conference, to be held from October 11-14, 2011 at the University of Munich (Germany) closes on July 1, 2011, midnightCEST (UTC + 2)!* (about 14 days from now!)

Full list of confirmed keynote speakers can be found at
http://www.palmuc.de/dmp2011, and you can register and submit your abstract directly at: https://www.conftool.com/dmp2011/

Graduate assistantships in insect systematics Arizona State University

Starting the Fall semester of 2011, teaching and research assistantships will be available at the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University (http://sols.asu.edu/), for graduate students (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) who are interested in insect systematics. A desire to work with weevils would be great but other taxon interests will receive full consideration. ASU-SoLS offers a wide range of learning and research opportunities (e.g. http://sols.asu.edu/grad/index.php; http://species.asu.edu/; http://sustainability.asu.edu/index.php), and is close to fascinating insect habitats. Interested candidates should send a statement of interest and CV to Nico Franz nico.franz@yahoo.com.

Computational Phyloinformatics August 1-11 2001 Kyoto

Bioinformatics Center of Kyoto University Application Deadline: May 31, 2011


Computational Phyloinformatics is a 11-day international course (August 1-11, 2011) co-organized by the Computational Biology Research Center (CBRC/AIST), the Bioinformatics Center of Kyoto University, the Database Center for Life Science (DBCLS/JST), and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). This course, which will take place at Kyoto University directly following the SMBE Meeting, aims to give participants practical knowledge and hands-on skills in phyloinformatics.

Biennial conference of the Systematics Association 4th - 8th July 2011

We are pleased to announce that registration is open for the 8th biennial conference of the Systematics Association, held for the first time in Northern Ireland! There is an exciting programme that includes both plenaries and thematic symposia, as well as a large number of contributed sessions. Currently scheduled symposia include:

  • Next Generation Systematics - Studying Evolution and Diversity in an Era of Ubiquitous Genomics
  • Arthropod Systematics: are Morphology, Palaeontology and Molecules Coming Together?
  • Algal Systematics: Where Next?
  • Advances in Using Museum Specimens and Ancient DNA in Systematics Research

Symposia will include a mixture of talks from invited speakers and other contributions. The Biennial also presents excellent opportunities for contributed papers on any aspect of systematics and is a great forum for students and young researchers to present their work. For further details, please see http://www.systass.org/biennial2011/.

Sabbatical scholars, working groups and catalysis meetings @NESCent

Proposals for Sabbaticals, Working Groups and Catalysis Meetings are now being accepted at The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). We are looking to support innovative approaches to outstanding problems in evolutionary science. In particular, proposals that have a clear interdisciplinary focus, or involve evolutionary concepts in non-traditional disciplines, are strongly encouraged, as are proposals that demonstrate international participation and a mix of senior and emerging researchers, including graduate students. Proposals are accepted twice a year, with deadlines on July 10 and December 1. Proposals for Sabbaticals may be for up to a full year. We also accept proposals for short-term visits (2 weeks to 3 months; deadlines on January 1, April 1, July 1 and September 1). For more information, please see our website at https://www.nescent.org/science/proposals.php.

Otto Warburg International Summer School and Research Symposium 2011 on Evolutionary Genomics

The Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin has announced the Otto Warburg International Summer School and Research Symposium 2011 on Evolutionary Genomics. The aim of this program is to bring together researchers and PhD students from different backgrounds (including molecular biology, bioinformatics, biological physics, mathematics) to discuss recent advances in evolutionary genomics in an interactive environment. The program focuses on high-level teaching and topical research seminars. Participants are expected to give poster presentations or contribute talks.
The registration fee is ΓΆβ??Β¬950 and will cover meals, accommodation and social events. Visit their web site to apply.

Assembling, Visualizing, and Analyzing the Tree of Life (AVAToL)

The US NSF has announced Assembling, Visualizing and Analyzing the Tree of Life (AVAToL) with a preliminary proposal deadline of May 10, 2011. From the NSF web site:

The Assembling, Visualizing and Analyzing the Tree of Life (AVAToL) activity supports novel and transformative approaches to the development of an integrated and robust tree of life, as well as visualization and analysis on a dynamic tree of life. This will take place through the Ideas Lab project development and review process. The goal of this activity is to identify opportunities for investment to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in tree construction, visualization, and analysis across the tree of life. Participants selected through an open application process will engage in an intensive five-day residential workshop to generate project ideas through an innovative, real-time review process. New multidisciplinary teams will form during this workshop to engage in creative problem solving directed at outstanding problems concerning the tree of life. Multidisciplinary integrative approaches calling for communication and interaction among diverse scientists are key to the success of the approach. For example, in addition to those working in systematics and phylogenetics, AVAToL might benefit from mathematicians and computer scientists to contribute algorithms and models, bioinformaticians or genomicists to contribute data pipelines and novel molecular characters, or statisticians and artists with an interest in novel methods of visualization and interactive use of the tree of life. Therefore, members of the systematics research community, bioinformaticians, genomicists, morphologists, paleontologists, computer scientists, statisticians, mathematicians, educators involved in training the next generation of researchers, and representatives of any other disciplines that might contribute important ideas are all strongly encouraged to apply.

Evolution of Life on Pacific Islands and Reefs: Past, Present, and Future, Honolulu, Hawaii, 26-30 May 2011

The conference will cover the contribution of Pacific biogeographic research to the fields of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. There will be 5 symposia, contributed papers and posters over three days (May 27-29), with optional pre-meeting workshops on May 26th and fieldtrips beginning on May 30th. The symposia will focus on the questions listed below:

  1. What within-lineage biogeographic patterns are found across the Pacific?
  2. Are there common patterns of evolutionary diversification among lineages across the disparate island systems of the Pacific?
  3. How do different plant and animal populations interact through time to form novel island ecosystems?
  4. How have people influenced the terrestrial and near-shore environments of Pacific islands?
  5. How does knowledge of the evolution of Pacific Island biota contribute to the conservation of island (and continental) ecosystems?

For details visit http://botany.si.edu/events/2011_pacific/.

Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 ΓΆβ?¬" new data, new challenges

Registration and abstract submission for the international conference "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011 ΓΆβ?¬" new data, new challenges", to be held from October 11-14, 2011 at the University of Munich (Germany) is now open!

The conference will bring together mathematicians, theoreticians, molecular systematists, and morphologists that aim at resolving deep branches in the animal tree of life for a better understanding of the evolution and diversification of multicellular life on Earth.

During the conference, new data, new analytical tools and new results will be discussed. Challenges and pitfalls in phylogeny reconstruction based on molecular and/or morphological data will be identified, aiming for a critical and constructive view of the state of the art of the metazoan tree of life.