Real species and ideology

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Mon Apr 19 07:46:24 CDT 2004

Interesting point, John.

I would add to it by saying that they should add the real politics

Following the point of arguments of Ron, who asks himself the
>"Is this set of organisms consistently distinct from this other set of
organisms enough that the interests of communication among biologists is
best served by the designation of different textual labels
applied to each set?"

I would note that years ago Linnaeus named subspecies of Homo sapiens,
perhaps for just that reasons, but other "scientists" expanded it into
"racism" with much adverse effects of our Science.

So, I would suggest that we all return to the arguments of Wilson &
Brown of the 1950s and just abandon subspecies at least in terms of
"real," or naming. And declare what is of interest and importance is
variation: the differences between individuals which we hypothesize
belong to "species" and how that relates to the whole, etc.  Anything
else leaves us in a mess political situation.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at e-mail  web site

>>> John Grehan <jgrehan at TPBMAIL.NET> 04/18/04 06:49PM >>>
At 11:06 PM 4/15/04 -0500, Ken Kinman wrote:
>Dear All,
>       When I look out the window at a robin, there is no doubt in my
> that it is a real species, and that this robin is going to mate with
> another robin.  Of course, many other cases aren't so clear cut.
> speciation has not progressed to such a clear cut point (and more
> intermediate forms are still extant), it can get really tricky.

I'll add to the 'tricky' nature of this question with respect to the
Zealand black robin (I've posted on this here any there a long time
so apologies to those with long memories). To enhance the reproductive
output of this endangered species, eggs were removed from black robin
(so they would then lay more eggs) and the eggs fostered with Chatham
Island tits. One of these fostered black robins decided it was a
Island tit and mated with one. The result was a hybrid that was
subsequently discovered. This hybrid was named Tobin, photographed
(nice close up portrait), and then shot. It was necessary to get
details of
this 'science' under the Official Information Act. This is where
(of species reality) and the realpolitics of conservation meet. Might
good to have species theorists discuss species concepts with respect to
geopolitical world of species management rather than the idealist word
theory (which is not to say that theorists have not yet done this).

John Grehan

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