Are species real?

Jan Metlevski jmetlevs at KSU.EDU
Fri Apr 14 17:16:55 CDT 2006

On Thu, 13 Apr 2006 08:28:57 -1000, Richard Pyle <
deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG> wrote:

>I understand the relevance of Systems Theory to biology and biological
>systematics.  But I don't see how the application of such will help us
>address the question of "reality" of taxa (at least in the context of how I
>perceive the "reality of taxa" debate). Could you explain how you think it
>(a Systems Theory approach) would help us discern whether species (and other
>taxa) are "real" (=natural) entities, as opposed to human-defined
>If you're thinking in terms of understanding the dynamics of gene flow
>within and among populations over time, I wonder how practical that approach
>would be for the vast majority of biodiversity.
There are general rules that work for all systems, doesn’t matter what kind of system
they are: physical, chemical, astronomical, social, biological, political or whatever
else. Reality of any system is in the interactions and relations between system’s
elements. If the interactions between object’s elements are stronger (or these
interactions are specific) than interactions between object’s elements and some
objects from the outside, then this object is a system and is real. This rule works for
biological objects too because all biological objects are pure systems.

I am no an adept of the Biological Species Concept. The gene flow within and
among populations over time reflects only the ancestry-descent kind of relations
between generations. That is an important, but not the only, and probably not the
main, type of relations that maintain the integrity of a species. In my opinion, the term
“gene flow” is not correct because actually, there is flow of gametes, not genes.



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