Character States, Morphological Variation, and Phylogenetic Analysis: A Review

  • Stevens P
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The step in cladistic analysis that has received least attention is delimitation of character states, there usually being little justification for their delimitation. It is generally assumed that states of cladistic characters are discrete, even when variation is quantitative. I show here that a majority of the character states of obviously quantitative characters used in lower-level cladistic studies in botany over the last generation are ambiguous even when ingroup variation alone is analyzed. Consideration of variation in the outgroup may compromize either the states recognized in the ingroup and/or the polarity that they are subsequently assigned. Furthermore, many so-called qualitative characters are based on a quantitative phenomenological base filtered through the reified semantic discontinuities of botanical terminology; such characters face the problems of their more obviously quantitative relatives. Methods for delimiting states within quantitative characters are examined. Some produce gaps in t...

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  • P. F. Stevens

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