"(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.

Is that what you had in mind?



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)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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