© 1993

Biological Systematics

The state of the art


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Problems and Methods

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 3-14
    3. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 15-43
    4. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 44-61
    5. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 62-86
    6. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 87-103
  3. The State of the Art

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 105-105
    2. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 107-129
    3. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 130-167
    4. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 185-197
    5. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 198-205
  4. Epilogue

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 207-207
    2. Alessandro Minelli
      Pages 209-214
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 215-387

About this book


To some potential readers of this book the description of Biological System­ atics as an art may seem outdated and frankly wrong. For most people art is subjective and unconstrained by universal laws. While one picture, play or poem may be internally consistent comparison between different art products is meaningless except by way of the individual artists. On the other hand modern Biological Systematics - particularly phenetics and cladistics - is offered as objective and ultimately governed by universal laws. This implies that classifications of different groups of organisms, being the products of systematics, should be comparable irrespective of authorship. Throughout this book Minelli justifies his title by developing the theme that biological classifications are, in fact, very unequal in their expressions of the pattern and processes of the natural world. Specialists are imbibed with their own groups and tend to establish a consensus of what constitutes a species or a genus, or whether it should be desirable to recognize sub­ species, cultivars etc. Ornithologists freely recognize subspecies and rarely do bird genera contain more than 10 species. On the other hand some coleopterists and botanists work with genera with over 1500 species. This asymmetry may reflect a biological reality; it may express a working practicality, or simply an historical artefact (older erected genera often contain more species). Rarely are these phenomena questioned.


Adaptation Animalia Chelicerata Crustacea Ctenophora Insecta Plathelminthes biology evolution genetics macromolecules micromolecules phylogeny systematics taxonomy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversita’ degli studi di PadovaPadovaItaly

Bibliographic information


Is a refreshingly no-dogmatic smorgasbord of many of the major aspects of systematics - Trends in Ecology and Evolution; ...performs a welcome service by organizing and integrating a large body of recent behavioural and physiolgical data within a coherent framework and by providing a critical guide to unresolved issues. Behavioural psychologists and neuroscientists working on learning and memory will find this book well worth the investment for orientation and reference - Bioscience; The style is quite readable, and I expecially appreciated the author's comparison of various sytematic codes and his editorial comments on how the process of systematics might be improved and streamlined ... a handy reference - American Zoologist; A valuable reference for more advanced students - Science and Technology; This book provides the broadest and most balanced review of systematics that I have seen. - Biological Systematics