Some Problems Associated With Character Correlations

  • K. R. Sporne
Part of the Plant Systematics and Evolution / Entwicklungsgeschichte und Systematik der Pflanzen book series (SYSTEMATICS, volume 1)


Among dicotyledons, 122 positive correlations at the 50 : 1 level of significance (and 170 at the 20 : 1 level) occur between twenty-six characters, some of which are morphological, some anatomical and some biochemical. Most of these characters are more abundant among families known to have appeared early in the fossil record than they are among those which appeared later. These facts have been used to discover which families are primitive and which advanced, in a way which minimizes subjective judgements. However, such judgements have not been completely eliminated; they have to be applied at all stages.

Decisions are necessary as to: which taxonomic scheme to use; which level of taxon to take as the statistical unit; how to treat incomplete data and “mixed taxa”; whether correlated characters are functionally associated and concerned in relative efficiency, or whether they are indicators of relative advancement, having been involved in evolutionary trends; whether all characters should be given equal weight.


Fossil Record Subjective Judgement Wood Character Fossil Wood Primitive Character 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. R. Sporne
    • 1
  1. 1.The Botany Botany SchoolUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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