Are species real?

Francisco Vergara-Silva f.vergarasilva at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 19 15:54:04 CDT 2006

Hi all,

in Number 26 of The Systematist (Newsletter of the Systematics Association; Rieppel writes:

"Hennig (1950) initially got Woodger's (1952) analysis of the hierarchical
organization of organisms, or taxa, from Bertalanffy (1932) (...); he became
acquainted with Woodger's (1952) and Gregg's (1954) original work only at a
later date (Hennig, 1957, 1966)."

It seems that this bit of history might be relevant to J. Metlevski's recent
comment about the connection between Bertalanffy and systematics.

On a separate issue, thanks to P. Lehtinen for pointing out to more
philosophy of science literature relevant to the subject matter of our
careers. It is nice to consider that after all, the amount of systematists
who are critical and open-minded might end up being much larger than those
who think that the meaning of meaningful things could only be found in the
Oxford Dictionary.



On 4/13/06, Richard Pyle <deepreef at> 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
> constructs?
> 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.
> Aloha,
> Rich
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> > Behalf Of Jan Metlevski
> > Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2006 7:53 AM
> > Subject: Re: Are species real?
> >
> >
> > People, the General Systems Theory could help to understand about
> > reality of
> > species as well as taxa of any other level.  It is just amazing
> > that many biologists,
> > and systematist as well, still even don't know what the Systems
> > Theory is about.
> >
> > Regards
> >
> > Jan

Francisco Vergara-Silva

Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, A. C.
Carretera Antigua a Coatepec 351 (Km 2.5), Congregación El Haya,
Xalapa 91070, Veracruz
tel. (52) 228 8421800 ext. 3011

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