Cryptic Species Discussion

Margaret K. Thayer mthayer at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Thu Oct 21 13:32:38 CDT 1999

At 05:41 AM 21-10-1999 -0700, Fred Rickson wrote:
>However, I just finished a study which found 8-10 apparently new species of
>unrelated invertebrates which live in hollow stems and have never been
>collected although their home range has been collected for 150 years (Sri
>Lanka).  They apparently don't venture out of the stems much.  Using the
>English language, I suggest these are cryptic species.  ...

The individuals are certainly cryptic in a vernacular sense, but especially
with the other existing meaning in biology for "cryptic species," your
species might more appropriately be called cryptobiotic species -- "1. Used
of organisms which are typically hidden or concealed in crevices or under
stones"  (Lincoln et al., 1982, A dictionary of ecology, evolution and
systematics, Cambridge U. Press; I believe there's a newer edition
The same authors do, however list a second meaning for cryptobiotic as
well, referring to cryptobiosis, or the state in which external signs of
metabolic activity are absent from a dormant organism!

Margaret K. Thayer      mthayer at
Adjunct Curator  - Zoology, Insects
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
Effective 22 May 1999 NEW PHONE: 312-665-7741 (direct-dial)
                      and FAX: 312-665-7754

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