Real species

Robin Leech releech at TELUSPLANET.NET
Fri Apr 16 19:48:58 CDT 2004

Ron, Ken and others,

Way back when I first started taking university courses (in the middle of
the last Century!), the ecologists had a gazillion words to describe each
minutely different aspect of exploitation of a habitat or niche by one or
more species.  It was confusing, and all based on whether it was a moss, a
fish, a bird, or an insect. One had to become a certain kind of ecological
specialist with a battery of tems that had to be understood and memorized.
Thankfully, the ecologists realized the problem, sat down, and in due course
declared a whole bunch terms and definitions as synonyms.  They left us with
a smaller set of terms and definitions that all of could handle, not just
the ecologists.

Perhaps we taxonomists/systematists/phylogenists/molecularists/pheneticists/
and all the other "ists" should sit down to see if we cannot synonymize a
whole bunch of terms related to species concepts and reproduction.  Instead
of having verbal brawls and fights to retain a term because it seems to
describe a unique situation, pehaps we ought to look at all these terms to
see what they all have in common with one another.  Perhaps some are unique.
Those we keep.  Perhaps a whole bunch are but two ways of looking at the
same phenomenon.  Sink or synonymize a term or definition without emotion.

I wonder what I am a subspecies of?  Has my species ever been found?  I
wonder what my roots are?

Robin Leech

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ron Gatrelle" <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: Real species

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Bob Mesibov
> Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 7:10 PM
> Subject: Re: Real species
> Ken Kinman wrote:
> "When I look out the window at a robin, there is no doubt in my mind that
> is
> a real species, and that this robin is going to mate with another robin."
> A lot is happening in Ken's mind here, but it's good he's given us a
> concrete
> example. We see an individual robin and accept that it's real (and a
> realistically separable bit of the continuum of existence) . If we watch
> long
> enough we'll see it mate with another robin. The realities we're dealing
> with
> are individuals and their breeding networks. Beyond those realities we're
> hypothesising. We do it energetically and fervently, but we're still just
> hypothesising.
> ***********
> I can't take it any longer --- I barely have the time to read these posts
> let alone get into the middle of this discussion.   When looking for
> reality, the living observable individual is IT - it stands to reason
> that the farther one moves spatially (tectonic drift), temporally (50
> million years), and quantitatively (all Quercus) the more subjective the
> what-really-is-this will become.   Thus, subspecies are the most real
> organic groups in nature - not species and surely not genera.  There is
> a bell curve to biological / evolutional "reality" in time and space.
> middle is the least clear as it relates to both ends.  Each end only
> to its nearest neighbor.
> I define a subspecies as:  Any regional population of a species that has
> evolved into a unique reproductively stable component of that species.
> Unfortunately re this thread,  I use the word species.  So forget that
> word - it is a detractor in this case.
> I see several issues not the least of which is if one is looking for past
> phylogenetic connectivity or present - even future - evolutional states.
> Perhaps this is an intrinsic problem of systematics vs. taxonomy.
> being more focused on what is now in hand - reality - this is an X.
> the systematic concern is ancestry - linkage - boundaries.  ?????   Even
> antireality can't deny the Robbin in the front yard.  Or the local nesting
> pair of Cardinals.
> NO species are not real - which is why there are 20 some "concepts" of
> makes one such.  The parameteres of time and space (as was mentioned with
> circular speciation ) being _motion_ make it impossible.  We know we are
> talking about millions of years and when did what become what and change
> what.   So the only dogmatic reality I see is  - This IS a robbin.   This
> local or regional distinct group of X taxon IS  Aus wus gus.   My proof in
> my subspecies argument is simply that in Aus wus gus there may be many
> changes but ole' gus will still be the same - making it the most real
> zoological taxon as it is the next smallest measurable denominator about
> individual specimen.
> *Aus wus gus  (gus was described and put on the taxonomic, systematic, and
> regional maps)
> *Aus gus  (_someone_ considered it a full species_
> *Bus wus gus  (_somebody_  put it in another geuus)
> *Cusae  gusae  (Code forced gender change)
> *Gus gus gus  (ultimate human recognition :-)  But doesn't effect (and
> not change) one single thing of the living organism and its reality.
> You get the picture.  Looks like reality to me.  Of course the problem
> my view is that subspecies have been largely out of vogue for some time -
> not just too bad - but science's loss.   Hummm... too many more points and
> thoughts.  I got a lot more but have to split.
> Ron Gatrelle
> PS  I have often said... Species are not real, only subspecies are.  Why?
> Every species is but some other things (extinct or future) subspecies.
> give it enough time and space.

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