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Abstract
In biological systematics, as well as in the philosophy of biology, species and higher taxa are individuated through their unique evolutionary origin. This is taken by some authors to mean that monophyly is a (relational) property not only of higher taxa, but also of species. A species is said to originate through speciation, and to go extinct when it splits into two daughter species (or through terminal extinction). Its unique evolutionary origin is said to bestow identity on a species through time and change, and to render species names rigid designators. Species names are thus believed to function just like names of supraspecific taxa. However, large parts of the Web of Life are composed of species that do not have a unique evolutionary origin from a single population, lineage or stem-species. Further, monophyly is an ambiguous concept if it is defined simply in terms of ‘unique evolutionary origin’. Disambiguating the concept by defining a monophyletic taxon as ‘a taxon that includes the ancestor and all, and only, its descendant’ renders monophyly inapplicable to species. At the heart of the problem lies a fundamental distinction between species and monophyletic taxa, where species form mutually exclusive reticulated systems, while higher taxa form inclusive hierarchical systems. Examples are given both at the species level and below to illustrate the problems that result from the application of the monophyly criterion to species. The conclusion is that the concepts of exclusivity and monophyly should be treated as non-overlapping: exclusivity marks out a species synchronistically, i.e. in the present time. Monophyly marks out clades (groups of species) diachronistically, i.e. within an historical dimension.
Keywords Phylogenetic systematics  monophyly  exclusivity  species
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