Sometimes when discussing the PhyloCode, I get the feeling a lot of potentially interested parties don't understand what phylogenetic nomenclature actually is. I have gone into excruciating detail on this topic elsewhere, but who wants to be excruciated? So here's a brief summary of the process of creating a phylogenetic taxonomy.
1. Declare Operational Taxonomic Units
Result: Alpha Taxonomy
The very first step is to decide what your units are. Are you dealing with individual organisms? Populations? Species? Which ones? Whatever you select, there should be an unambiguous way of referring to these taxonomic units (specimen numbers, species names, etc.).
Phylogenetic nomenclature is flexible as to how you determine and name taxonomic units. (Although the names must be relateable to those used in definitions [see Step 3].)
Example: My operational taxonomic units are the whale species Aetiocetus cotylalveus, Balaena mysticetus, Balaenoptera physalus, Delphinus delphis, and Monodon monoceros.
|Operational Taxonomic Units|
Silhouettes by Chris huh and T. Michael Keesey, taken from PhyloPic.
Image license: CC-BY-SA 3.0