Recent advances in systematics have resulted in the development of statistical approaches to phylogeny estimation and hypothesis testing. We present this emerging statistical perspective, distinguish it from the nonstatistical approach as commonly practiced, and demonstrate its application to 2 systematic proposals from the recent literature on rodents: Mares and Braun's (1996) retention of Andalgalomys contra Steppan (1995) and the conclusion of Engel et al. (1998) that Calomys is a multitribal composite taxon. Systematic arguments and recommendations by Mares and Braun are critiqued in detail. We argue that the statistical approach provides a more objective and powerful basis for evaluating alternative phylogenetic hypotheses and a more stable foundation for nomenclatural decisions.
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