Real Species

Ron at Ron at
Fri Apr 23 17:14:36 CDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: pierre deleporte
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2004 2:42 PM
Subject: Re: Real Species

A 13:19 23/04/2004 -0400, Ron Gatrelle wrote:
>What is wrong with the Biological Species Concept is that it should be
>called the Biological Subspecies Concept because that entity is the only
>"individual" group that is both now and local.

Pierre:  Given your previous statements, don't you think you're confusing
"subspecies" with "population" (only the population of effectively living
beings is "now and local"). Dead members of what is abusively called the
"same population" (the dead are no more now and local living beings) may
belong to the same (sub) species. But shouldn't we clearly separate the
"now and local" population from the classically non-now-and-local concept
of a (sub)species?
You can confuse both terms, and you win for separating sub species from
species. But at what cost...


The determination of a "subspecies" (not the reality of it) in taxonomic or
systematic parameters is a difficult business.   This is because they exist
in nature in several different delimitations (observable, natural and
functional reality).   Thus, I like the ICZN distinction of a zoological
taxon and a taxonomic taxon.   The latter being our human conception of the
taxon's parameters (boundaries).  The zoological taxon is a natural
(observable and functional) reality with or without human categorization.

By nomenclature, we stick the label of "subspecies xus" on dead specimens.
This is a taxonomic taxon taken from the living zoological taxon - which we
also happen to call "subspecies xus".   So as Pierre says, yes, we have to
be careful (while using the single term "subspecies xus") to always have in
mind that the _real_ subspecies xus is the zoological taxon = the singular
reproductively stable, unique, local (regional) _population_ .   The living
zoological taxon we "recognize" as _objectively_ real (self evident) as it
is a living population functioning as one intra-active organic entity.  WE
then call (label) this a subspecies xus.   That is fine and correct - if we
understand what we are doing - communicating a zoological taxon by a
nomenclatural epithet to other humans.   That which is dead we also "label"
_subjectively_ subspecies xus.   It is fine to use the same "name" or term
for the living (evolving) xus and the dead (evolution stopped) xus in the

Because evolution in the quantitive degree of plateaus (subspecies to
subspecies, or subspecies to "species")  takes more time than any one of us
will _witness_ , the dead material in our museums will "pass" (suffice) for
subspecies xus.  Let me put it this way.   If someone presented a picture of
me at 10, when I am now 59, and said do you know this person?  One would say
no, even if I was their best friend.   This is because the picture of me (at
the child phase = evolution) is not me in the now.   BUT if someone had a
picture of me at 58 1/2, when I am now just 59, I would be recognized - even
though under magnification one would see I had lost some hair and my eye
sight gotten worse (evolved) in just that 6 months.  Further, the 58 and 59
myselves are both still in the same phase (=evolution expressed as a
taxonomic taxon rank) of adult - not the 10 year old child phase.     I see
museum specimens like this.   They are good for identification purposes and
can be _referred to AS_  subspecies xus as they are still _from_ the same
plateau (evolutional phase).   The great use of museum specimens only comes
to its fullest far into the future. We doubtless have imagined a sample of a
subspecies xus taxon from the same location with 100 specimens taken every
100 years for 10 million years.  We _would_ be able to plot the evolution
from plaueau (zoological and taxonomic taxon) to plateau.   We know this for
this is what we find in the geological fossil _record_.  That record is the
museum of past nows, plateaus, and zoological taxa which we have classified
into taxonomic taxa - these ranking constructs being artificial for that
which at one time and place was real.

This thread is about real.  Real being that which is observable _and_
natural.  We all agree that the specimen in the field is real - and a
zoological taxon.  I would hope that all would agree that in sexual
organisms it follows that the "pair" is still that same reality and
zoological taxon.  AND that an intra-population (reproductively stable,
unique, local (holistically connected) and thus having manifest integrity
from nearest relatives in the now, is that same reality - a single
zoological taxon.   WE identify them by a taxonomic trinomial epithet.
Anything below this is transient and unstable forms, morphs, varieties,
mutations etc.  Everything above this in hierarchal rankings are arbitrary
human constructs based on passed evolutionary effects.  I consider this so
as I maintain that all "species" are simply specialized subspecies either
becoming extinct or beginning to give rise to other subspecies.

Ron Gatrelle

More information about the Taxacom mailing list