Classification of Weevils as a data-driven science: leaving opinion behind
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Data and explicit taxonomic ranking criteria, which minimize taxonomic change, provide a scientific approach to modern taxonomy and classification. However, traditional practices of opinion-based taxonomy (i.e., mid-20th century evolutionary systematics), which lack explicit ranking and naming criteria, are still in practice despite phylogenetic evidence. This paper discusses a recent proposed reclassification of weevils that elevates bark and ambrosia beetles (Scolytinae and Platypodinae) to the ranks of Family. We demonstrate that the proposed reclassification 1) is not supported by an evolutionary systematic justification because the apparently unique morphology of bark and ambrosia beetles is shared with other unrelated wood-boring weevil taxa; 2) introduces obvious paraphyly in weevil classification and hence violates good practices on maintaining an economy of taxonomic change; 3) is not supported by other taxonomic naming criteria, such as time banding. We recommend the abandonment of traditional practices of an opinion-based taxonomy, especially in light of available data and resulting phylogenies.