The high cost of overspecialization

In their entreaty to bring “all available data” back into the fold of phylogenetic systematics, Quentin Wheeler and colleagues attribute the epidemic of DNA sequence analyses to certain key advantages of DNA data (Nature 496, 295–296, 2013). We suggest another, more basic explanation.

After years of training in understanding taxonomic groups and evaluating complex characters, scientists can find themselves overspecialized in a particular taxon, making them uncompetitive for employment and funding opportunities. Analysing DNA sequence data, which relies less on specialized taxonomic knowledge, does not exact such a high cost.

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Correspondence to Xiaolei Huang.

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Huang, X., Qiao, G. & Favret, C. The high cost of overspecialization. Nature 497, 40 (2013).

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