[Taxacom] Justifying species?

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sat Feb 16 23:41:36 CST 2008

Hi, Robin.

It was a genuine question, inspired by the 'therefore' in the quote from
the paper.

The authors have gone way past 'It's a species because I'm an
experienced taxonomist and I say it's a species.' They've also gone way
past the judgment/algorithms that let you split a cladogram mechanically
into species.

They seem to be saying, 'If you define a species by criterion A, then
this sampled population is a species. If you define a species by
criterion B, then this sampled population is also a species. The more
different criteria get satisfied, the more confident we are in erecting
a new Linnean species for the population sampled.'

This nimbly steps around the question of whether species are real. It
also avoids dwelling on Kirk Fitzhugh's concept of a species as an
evolutionary hypothesis which explains a distribution of character

It's more like a protocol or tick-off list. Never seen such a thing
before, but then I don't read the taxonomic literature outside my
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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