Real species

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at FREELER.NL
Sat Apr 17 12:35:10 CDT 2004

From: Ken Kinman <kinman2 at YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 6:06 AM
When I look out the window at a robin, there is no doubt in my mind that it
is a real species, and that this robin is going to mate with another robin.

From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 2:14 AM
When looking for reality, the living observable individual is it - it stands
to reason then, 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

+ + +
Surely this is completely backwards.
A basic tenet of biology is that the species is the basic unit.
The difference between a species and a subspecies is one of rank.
If there is a case where the subspecies is more "real" than the species then
this is a case where ranks were assigned wrongly. Axiomatic.
+ + +

From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG>
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 6:53 AM
I would rephrase that as "...subspecies are the most real taxonomic group
formally recognized by the International Code for Zoological

 In the botany world, you can go with Form, or maybe Cultivar.

+ + +
A Form often is an individual, as is a Cultivar. "Individual" in the sense
that all "specimens" have the same genome. As it is true that it often is
impossible to be sure what a species is, it often is impossible to tell what
an individual is. Anyway a Cultivar (likely a Form too) is something that
exists only through reproductive isolation, it is a taxonomic dead end.
+ + +

From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG>
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 9:35 AM

Referring back to my earlier description of
white zones (clearly heterospecific -- essentially zero gene flow on
evolutionary time scales), black zones (clearly conspecific -- essentially
unobstructed gene flow on evolutionary time scales), and grey zones ("fuzzy"
transitional cases in-between), the subspecific designators would be used
for the cases in the grey.

+ + +
This seems spot on. Species are more "real" than subspecies.

Paul van Rijckevorsel
Utrecht, NL

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