Re: Sibley and Ahlquist (long)

Subject: Re: Sibley and Ahlquist (long)
From: John Penhallurick <>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 11:27:22 +1000 (EST)
There was one book, I think it was Gruson's Checklist, which put species 
in alphabetical order within genera, but retained the taxonomic order of 
families and genera.  I didn't like it at all.

A problem with using the Traditional/Peters Sequence is that as published 
in the Peters Checklist, it is inconsistent(eg in its treatment of 
Turdidae in different volumes), and it maintains the mistaken idea that 
the Australasian avifauna are descended from a Eurasian radiation.  
Everyone now concedes that the Australian passerine families are more 
closely related to each other than to birds outside Australia. 

If you want a compromise that does embody the Australian radiation, but 
is otherwise mor conservative than Sibley/Ahlquist/Monroe, you can use 
the Gill sequence, which is effectively that used in Clements's Checklist.

One of the main criticisms of Sibley and Ahlquist's work  was that it didn't 
obtain complete matrices.  Sibley points out that it would have taken 
270 years of non-stop activity to obtain a complete matrix for the 1700-odd 
species that they sampled.  However, a lot of more detailed work has been 
done in the last few years using complete matrices, and overwhelmingly, 
this supports Sibley & Ahlquist's sequence.  They have also compared the 
results of using full matrices as opposed to partial matrices, and have 
found that partial matrices given the same results down to only 40% of 
cells filled.

I can give anyone interested in recent work on DNA DNA Hybridisation a 
list of recent references.  I also strongly support using other methods, 
such a DNA sequencing.  But it should be recognised that there are 
limitations to DNA seuqencing as well.

John Penhallurick

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