Taxa and Diagnoses

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Apr 10 22:30:13 CDT 1997

We have always had cryptic taxa - those that are especially difficult to
diagnose.  It seems to me that one of the benefits of molecular
approaches to species "delineation" is that these tools can provide
insight to patterns of variation that may not be evident when traditional
morphological/anatomical characters are examined.  The recognition that a
a taxon may consist of phenotypically similar, but genotypically
different, populations is necessary for developing proper conservation
programs.  My guess is that if we only pay attention to those "taxa" (or
populations) that are easily diagnosable, we may lose significant
components of the inherent genetic variation that may be critical for
maintaining biodiversity.  It is incumbent on us, as
taxonomists/systematists, to make sure that the lay-people who will
participate in decision making understand that there is more to a species
than meets the eye.

Richard J. Jensen      |   E-MAIL: rjensen at
Dept. of Biology       |   TELEPHONE: 219-284-4674
Saint Mary's College   |   FAX: 219-284-4716
Notre Dame, IN  46556  |

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