Use of higher taxonomic groups = use species?

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Nov 16 09:32:16 CST 2000

I would argue that the use of "higher" taxonomic groups would be
misleading, especially when trying to get at the why of the patterns that
are observed.

In my own favorite group, the oaks in eastern North America belong to two
well defined sections: Quercus section Quercus (the white and chestnut
oaks) and Quercus sect. Lobatae (the red and black oaks).  There are
several general life history, as well as anatomical, morphological, etc.,
differences between these two groups.  One interesting phenomenon that has
been noted is that when two species of oak are co-dominant in a particular
forested area, the twp species are more likely to be members of different
sections than to be members of the same section.  Thus, species in each
section have evolved into the same general niche, but they must have done
so in different ways.  And, species in each section have evolved to occupy
most niches available from those of xeric ridge tops to those of mesic
ravines to seasonally inundated lowlands.  For a community ecologist to
lump all oaks together, either as a genus or as a section, would be
to overlook the dynamics of the adaptations these species have evolved.

Richard J. Jensen      |   E-MAIL: rjensen at
Dept. of Biology       |   TELEPHONE: 219-284-4674
Saint Mary's College   |   FAX: 219-284-4716
Notre Dame, IN  46556  |

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