species/subspecies query

Don McAllister mcall at SUPERAJE.COM
Thu Nov 16 08:03:59 CST 2000

Curtis Clark wrote:

> At 08:07 AM 11/15/00, Ken Kinman wrote:
> >As long as there is the potential for genetic exchange between
> >populations A & C by way of the intermediate population B, it seems
> >preferable to regard it as one species which is in the process of
> >speciation.
> That's why species and speciation don't get any respect: it's all too easy
> to make up stories about them. "Potential for genetic exchange" becomes
> more important than actual genetic exchange,

I empathize with this point of view.  In practical terms though, dollars to
taxonomic research, the number of researchers and the number of new students is
down. It is not a matter of half a dozen species whose status could be better
established, but thousands and thousands.

Taxonomists try to do the best they can with the resources in hand.

Admittedly the process of genetic flow can be more easily measured than it used
to be with various molecular techniques.  But think still think of the costs to
monographic study involveing several hundred insects, mites, algae, molluscs,
Then add to that the cost of getting fresh frozen samples across a wide
geographic range.

So yes, let's reach genetic exchange standards as high as we can with the
resources we have.  But let's not knock those who do the best they can.

Don McAllister

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