New Method of Classifying Organisms

image of Dr. Moore

by Lynda F. Rysavy | Wednesday, Jun 24, 2020

image of Dr. MooreHarriet L. Wilkes Honors College Faculty Jon A. Moore, Ph.D., and Susan L. Richardson, Ph.D., were recently published in a new book titled “ Phylonyms: A Companion to the PhyloCode .” Phylonyms is an accompanying volume to the simultaneously released “ International Code of Phylogenetic Nomenclature (PhyloCode) ."


The product of more than 20 years of work, these two publications help formalize an alternative set of rules 285 years after the release of the first edition of “Systema Naturae,” the landmark volume marking the beginning of the rank-based system for categorizing and naming life. Known as the  PhyloCode , this system defines scientific names based on evolutionary relationships.


“The PhyloCode provides a system of naming clades (related groups) of species based on their phylogenetic relations (a kind of evolutionary tree). The Linnean system of creating ranked categories (e.g., genus, subfamily, family, order, etc.) was never very well defined and initially predated ideas of evolution, and so did not incorporate evolutionary relatedness until much later,“ said Dr. Moore. “Even now, the ideas used to define relatedness in the Linnean system are inconsistently applied and not explicit in their definitions of what is or isn’t in a certain group. The PhyloCode formalizes how clades are named and defined. The Phylonyms book provides formal examples of clade names and their definitions that were either previously named for valid clades by earlier investigators or newly named by the authors of the various chapters within the book.”


Dr. Moore is the lead author for formal definitions of ten clades of bony fishes, including naming five new groups (Osteichthyes, Pan-Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii, Pan-Actinopterygii, Actinopteri, Pan-Actinopteri, Neopterygii, Pan-Neopterygii, Teleostei, Pan-Teleostei). Dr. Richardson is the lead author for the formal definition for the clade Foraminifera, a diverse group of shelled protists. She is also a founding member of the International Society for Phylogenetic Nomenclature and a member of the Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature.


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