species concepts

Robin Leech robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Thu Jul 11 05:47:22 CDT 1996

Ah, well, you see, Peter, EVEN we human taxonomists have only a plainly
imperfect, non-objective view of what represents a species.  If we had a
perfect view, we would not be in a continuous state of "bumping" a subspecies
(named as such) to the species level, splitting and giving new names to parts
of the unit that we perceived previously as one species, or lumping what
was perceived previously as 2 or more species, and then declaring the
oldest name as valid and the others as junior synonyms.  No, our view of
what is a species is still perceptual, even for most of the sexually
reproducing animals.

Granted, we have a reasonably good perception of reality and species with
the extant elephants, but, as has been aired here recently, a rather poor
perception of reality with CANIS LUPUS.  Does CANIS LUPUS have
subspecies?  We skirt around the perception question when we do DNA
testing on CANUS LUPUS and dogs,  and instead fall back onto another word -
"interpretive" -  as the operative word.

Remember not so far back when 95% difference represented 1 standard
deviation justified our action of creating the distinction, at the
species level, of naming a new species?  Well, how does that fit into the
scheme of things when we find that we and chimpanzees are DNA-related at
the 98+% level?  What shall we do, call it objective, perceptive, or
interpretive?  Your call!

Robin Leech

On Thu, 11 Jul 1996, Peter Schuchert wrote:

> >A species is, in fact, a convenient administrative unit and nothing
> >more.
> Dear Roger
> I disagree vehemently (shouting)! Not only humans recognize species, but
> also most other living beeings too (as mates, prey, nurture etc.). Thus, most
> sexual species as recognised by humans most probaly are natural entieties.
> The recognition of species is thus not a subjective view.
> Cheers,  Peter
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Peter Schuchert
> Lecturer in Zoology
> University of Basel
> Rheinsprung 9
> CH-4051 Basel  Switzerland
> Fax 0041 61 267 34 57
> ww page:
> http://www.unibas.ch/dib/zoologie/research/schuch.html
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> If you don't know the name, the knowledge of things is
> lost  (C. Linnaeus).
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---

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