cryptic and sibling species

Kipling Will kww4 at CORNELL.EDU
Sun Oct 17 19:19:59 CDT 1999

Jim Liebherr and I used "cryptic sibling" in our discussion of  a beetle
species that we described. The "new" species has only a few a
morphological characteristic that distinguishes it and was mixed in the
many thousands of specimens of the more common "old" species. Our
terminology refers to both our hypothesis of a sister species
relationship and the fact that the two species were mixed in series, the
less common one effectively hiding from taxonomists like T.L. Casey (an
incredible producer of names, mostly synonyms in ground beetles).

An aside . . .  As it turns out, the newly named species is restricted
to bogs and fully flight capable while the more common species is a
forest litter generalist and must walk to get around (reduced flight


Ken Kinman wrote:
>      Please correct me if I am wrong, but are sibling species pretty much
> equivalent to "cryptic species" (closely related, but separate species which
> are morphologically almost identical, but distinguishable by molecular and
> other means---such as differences in bird songs, which I believe led to the
> discovery of some avian sibling species).
>      It seems like zoologists tend to prefer "sibling species" and botanists
> tend to prefer "cryptic species".  If so, does this have anything to do with
> "sibling" varieties (if that is the correct term) that plant breeders are
> fond of crossing with each other?   I guess I prefer "sibling species"
> because I am a zoologist, and I think we often tend to use the term "cryptic
> species" to refer to those which are well camouflaged to blend in with the
> environment.   Just curious how others on the list use these terms.
>                         ---------Ken Kinman
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Kipling Will
2144 Comstock Hall
Dept. of Entomology
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
The grand fact of the natural subordination of organic beings in groups
under groups, which, from its familiarity, does not always sufficiently
strike us, is in my judgement thus explained.  -Darwin

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