Taxa and Diagnoses

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Thu Apr 10 20:18:00 CDT 1997

At 06:04 PM 04/10/97 -0600, WCS Gallon Jug wrote:
>A finer delineation of taxa is much better for conservation issues as more
>unique habitats and species can be "protected" at least on paper.  If taxa
>are soooo obscure as to only be separated with a CRAY using some obscure
>molecular data or software construct of branching patterns it will be very
>difficult to convince global decision makers that they really need to be set
>aside for protection.

The issue is not protecting taxa, but protecting species. No one has ever
proposed an Asteraceae reserve, for example. Molecular data can indeed do
what you say if they show local variation that can't be diagnosed through
phenotype. But branching patterns are the stuff of taxa more inclusive than
species, and whether these can be recognized or not is not really a
conservation issue.

Curtis Clark             
Biological Sciences Department                     Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona    FAX:   (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                          jcclark at

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