Taxacom S/N Ratio (4:last)

Peter Rauch peterr at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Feb 15 08:12:15 CST 1995

Date:         Tue, 14 Feb 1995 20:07:30 EST
From: Daan Sandee <sandee at CMNS.THINK.COM>
Subject:      Re: ESA (back from: Splitting/lumping)
To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT

|> Subject:      Re: Splitting/lumping
|>              ..................At any rate, given the arbitrariness of
|> species concepts, the ESA should seek to preserve biological diversity
|> regardless of the "rank" a diagnosably distinct population is currently
|> accorded by systematists.

I'll leave the fascinating but repetitive discussion about splitting vs.
lumping and BSC vs. PSC to the professionals. However, as this thread
started by complaints about the ESA concerning itself overmuch with
taxonomy, I have to point out that the ESA, as modified, in fact does
not require any decision on protection to be based on taxonomy.

16 USC 1531 as amended by Pub. L. 95-632, Sec. 2(5), (7)   (1978)
             (16) The term 'species' includes any subspecies of fish or
           wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any
           species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when

Looking at the list of birds classified as Endangered, there are plenty
of species for which only some populations are listed (Brown Pelican,
Piping Plover), the identification being based merely on geography
and not on taxonomy.
Northern Spotted Owl is a subspecies. Its taxonomic status is irrelevant
though. (Interestingly, at the moment it's a toss-up whether the two
other North American subspecies, California Sp.O. and Mexican Sp.O.,
will be given species status before or after being declared endangered.
But the one decision, by the A.O.U., is entirely independent of the
other decision, by USFWS.)
California Gnatcatcher was split off and this decision was brought into
the debate on its protection *by the state of California* (with developers
accusing taxonomists of splitting species to force protection.) I don't
think taxonomy was ever an issue in protecting the (sub)species under
the ESA.

Daan Sandee                                           sandee at
Mountain View, CA 94041

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