species/subspecies query

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Thu Nov 16 08:05:55 CST 2000

At 07:44 PM 11/15/00 -0800, Curtis Clark wrote:

>IMO there are only two legitimate positions: (1) Species are not actual
>units of nature, and so species concepts are hollow rhetoric and speciation
>is not a real process; (2) Species are units of nature that originate
>through a process or processes that we call speciation, and we can
>formulate testable hypotheses that help us to understand both the
>processes and their products.

I favor the latter, while muttering sotto voce that populations are even
more "important" units of nature that, etc. etc.  The degree to which
species are "real" is merely a reflection of the fact that they are
aggregations of populations, which are even "more real."  At the same time,
I realize that the concept of population gets hazy sometimes, and that
maybe the only "real reality" is the individual.  But then I start to think
about genets and ramets, and different life forms, and what IS an
individual ...

And THEN I say to hell with it all, and just get back to work and DO taxonomy.

Seriously, I think there is something to Ernst Mayr's idea that the BSC
only has to operate locally.  As long as A & B are reproductively isolated
where they are sympatric, it doesn't matter if A outside the area of
sympatry is reproductively isolated from B.  Allopatry is a very effective
means of reproductive isolation; why worry about internal measures if
you're not sympatric?

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-7085
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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