Biological Classification: Toward a Synthesis of Opposing Methodologies

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Science  30 Oct 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4520, pp. 510-516
DOI: 10.1126/science.214.4520.510


Currently a controversy is raging as to which of three competing methodologies of biological classification is the best: phenetics, cladistics, or evolutionary classification. The merits and seeming deficiencies of the three approaches are analyzed. Since classifying is a multiple-step procedure, it is suggested that the best components of the three methods be used at each step. By such a synthetic approach, classifications can be constructed that are equally suited as the basis of generalizations and as an index to information storage and retrieval systems.

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