cryptic and sibling species

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at ISTAR.CA
Tue Oct 19 21:57:38 CDT 1999

Ken Kinman wrote:
>  Seems like "cryptic species" is used in
> many different ways.  I think I would prefer to continue using "sibling
> species", whether it involves two or more species that are
> morphologically difficult to distinguish.
> It does seem like using the phrase "cryptic species"
>  has the potential for a lot more confusion than any
> possible confusion between the terms "sister species" and
> "sibling species".

* still, a sister is a kind of sibling, and crypsis is visual
camouflage, so confusion is built in to each expression. It might be
clearer to say "morphologically very similar species," or "previously
confused species" (the usual case).  Or do those express the ideas too
clearly? It's not like being sibling species is a real "something," a
category that has any boundaries, it's just an expression of some degree
of similarilty or, usually, of previous taxonomists' failure to
distinguish the species. Morphologically the Eastern and Western
Meadowlrks (Sturnella magna & neglecta) are 'sibling species,' but
vocally they're not similar at all.

fred schueler.
         Eastern    Ontario    Biodiversity    Museum
                Grenville Co, Ontario, Canada
(RR#2 Oxford Station, K0G 1T0) (613)258-3107   bckcdb at

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