[Taxacom] The Reality (or not) of Species (again!)`

Anya Hinkle ahinkle at email.wcu.edu
Tue Sep 16 07:31:35 CDT 2008

Please remove me from this list

From: Curtis Clark <jcclark-lists at earthlink.net>
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2008 22:41:53 -0400
To: <Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Conversation: [Taxacom] The Reality (or not) of Species (again!)`
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The Reality (or not) of Species (again!)`

On 2008-09-15 03:50, Neil Bell wrote:
> The problem I have with this (I didn't have a problem with most of what
> you said) is that it seems to conflate perspective with a continuum of
> reality/unreality, or of accuracy of representation. It's not that the
> phylogenetic perspective is "broader and cruder" (and so further removed
> from "reality"), but rather that it *really is* the more accurate
> representation of relationships at the level at which it operates. The
> relationships between a group of single exemplars (even if they are
> treated as individuals)  from different families are nearly always
> genuinely hierarchical. It doesn't matter in this  context if some of
> them are members of ambiguously differentiated species complexes; any
> individual you selected from that complex would have the same
> relationship to the exemplars from the other families as any other
> (irrespective of whether you could accurately reconstruct it). To claim
> that this perspective is "cruder" seems to me just a bias of
> perspective. The hierarchical structure is genuine (a product of the
> fact that at *some* level of differentiation there is a permanent
> severing of gene flow between lineages, lateral transfer excepted) and
> you need the tools of phylogenetics to observe it. The fact that the
> relative relationships of these individuals ultimately derive from
> processes that cannot be characterised in the same manner does not make
> them less "real", or justify this statement:

Yeah!  What he said!


> Of course a phylogenetic study conducted within a single genus in which
> half of the supposed species are hybrids or populations having
> significant gene flow between them will be fundamentally flawed, but the
> error is in the application of the method, not in the method.

I was actually working on a situation like that (fewer species of hybrid
origin, but a lot of hybridization) when I got pulled into other things
in the late 1990s. It requires multiple lines of inference. Slavish
adherence to any single approach is doomed to fail. But cladistics was a
useful tool in the toolbox.

Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Director, I&IT Web Development                   +1 909 979 6371
University Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona

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