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Thirty Years of Numerical Taxonomy

P. H. A. Sneath
Systematic Biology
Vol. 44, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 281-298
DOI: 10.2307/2413593
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2413593
Page Count: 18
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Thirty Years of Numerical Taxonomy
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Abstract

In this history of numerical taxonomy since the publication in 1963 of Sokal and Sneath's Principles of Numerical Taxonomy, I include reminiscences of the reactions of biologists in Britain and elsewhere. Much of the original program has proved sound. The debate on phenetic and phylogenetic classifications has been valuable, although the logical and theoretical aspects of phenetics have been greatly overlooked in the debate. Hennigian cladistics, however, is a side issue that has not proven its value. Numerical taxonomy in the broad sense is the greatest advance in systematics since Darwin or perhaps since Linnaeus. It has stimulated several new areas of growth, including numerical phylogenetics, molecular taxonomy, morphometrics, and numerical identification. It has wide application outside systematic biology. Landmarks and trends are important aspects of numerical taxonomy. In microbiology, the program of numerical taxonomy has been successful, as indicated by the preponderance of papers describing numerical relationships in the International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. This review concludes with comments on the needs and prospects of the future.

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