naming and types
weiler at ERS.UNR.EDU
Sat Nov 9 06:56:37 CST 1996
"JOSEPH E. LAFERRIERE" <josephl at AZTEC.ASU.EDU> wrote:
Genera and species have their historical
origins in European folk taxonomy, and were well-established
concepts long before Darwin or even Linnaeus.
Numerous human societies had ranks of similar scale before
the Europeans thought it would be a good idea to "standardize"
the world's lexicon.
I oppose the idea of assigning separate names to two
populations based solely on molecular data with no correlating
morphological data at all. I don't care whether the two are
genetically compatible or not. If you can't tell the difference
without sophisticated techniques, only a specialist in that
particular group would want to hear about it.
This type of statement leads to charges that taxonomy is
somehow different from the rest of the biological sciences,
in particular that taxonomy is for taxonomists and therefore
they all belong is the bowels of a building in the those
dark and dusty museum and herbaria. You're killing yourself.
Here is a short list of groups that might be interested in the
fact that there are cryptic species around:
1. Conservation Biologists - currently struggling with the
problem of what defines a distinctive taxon, they are
giving serious thought to evolutionary significant
units (Moritz; see also Waples). If they treat species A
thinking it will respond like species B, but don't
know that they are dealing with 2 species, they risk
2. Ecologists - Some ecologists are still in the business of
trying explain the distribution and abundance of species.
If their models tell them that a community will "behave"
in a particular fashion, even a single cryptic species can
cause discord between empirical work and theory.
Even ecologists who don't care too much about broad questions
could express immense interest. If they are sympatric, how
two (or more!) cryptic species coexist? How are they
partitioning the resources?
3. Pharmaceutical types - Each unique species represents
a unique (uncontrolled) genetic experiment. A bit applied,
but a group nonetheless.
4. Evolutionary Biologists - They are always trying to catch
speciation in action. Cryptic species are cool!
5. Morphologists (I hate to use such broad terms; taxonomists
who apply morphological data, in my opinion, cannot be
so easily lumped as split). Molecular data can prompt a search
for new and previously thought downweighted morphological
Sorry, Joe. I've got all the pins I need!
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