OTU's and species decisionmaking

Les Kaufman lesk at BIO.BU.EDU
Mon Dec 15 18:05:18 CST 1997

I am curious about listmembers' biases concerning the decision whether or
not to describe as a new taxon entitites that are geographically isolated
from their nearest relatives and visibly distinct, but clearly allied to a
sister taxon that is close at hand, though allopatric.  In general, such
taxa would probably correspond to Mayr's semispecies.  Their recognition as
unique can convey important information and may have policy implications
(e.g., for recognition as units of conservation); however, there may be
little or no biological significance attendant to whether or not they are
recognized as taxonomic species.

The specific case in point concerns the Lake Victoria Region
haplochromines, distributed among a series of systems with only the most
tenuous connections at present, and considerable local endemism, or at
least, taxonomic distinctness among vicariant forms.

Les Kaufman
Boston University Marine Program
Department of Biology
Boston University
5 Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215

e-mail: lesk at bio.bu.edu
phone: 617-353-5560
fax:   617-353-6340

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