"(morpho)" species?

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Wed Jan 6 20:15:16 CST 1999


Peter Rauch wrote:

>On Wed, 6 Jan 1999, Doug Yanega wrote:
>> ...; if you want to say anything
>> fundamental about diversity, you really shouldn't be looking any higher
>> than (morpho)species.
>
>Doug, I don't understand the parenthetical "(morpho)" in your comment
>above. In particular, why should (bio)diversity studies be limited to
>_morpho_ species? (I am not asking about your concern with diversity
>studies that use "higher" level categories as the basis for comparisons
>--I think I understand your point of view on that issue. I'm asking
>whether you believe that there are no other _functional_ (or
>biological/evolutionary) "low-level" categories than _morpho_ species
>which can form the basis of useful biodiversity studies?

Whwn talking about comparisons of taxonomic entities, the species is what
I'd say is the only level which is not arbitrary - and, at least from an
entomologist's perspective, 99.99% of the time we don't *know* which
entities are genuinely species, so we define them based on morphology. I
put "morpho" in parentheses to avoid getting into "species definition"
arguments, as a way of admitting openly that what I, in practice, call a
species is really only a morphospecies (though, while we're on it, I'm
probably in Alan Templeton's camp, preferring the "cohesion species"
concept in principle even if it's hard as heck to document such a species).
If I understand your question, then no, I didn't mean to imply that looking
at things like functional feeding groups, or guilds, or
generalists/specialists, endemics/invasives, or other *ecological*
groupings were inappropriate for diversity studies - those are groupings
which, when done right, have criteria which clearly define their limits and
therefore are not *arbitrary* the way genera, tribes, subfamilies, etc.
are.

Is that what you had in mind?

Peace,

[NOTE THAT I WILL BE LEAVING BRAZIL ON FEB 13]

Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
                  http://www.icb.ufmg.br/~dyanega/
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82




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