[Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Gordon Ramel mrgordonramel at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 25 09:10:45 CST 2009

Dear Peter and Listmembers,
             Maybe I am out of touch with my peers, but as an ecologist I do not consider a species as a real thing, although I frequently treat many species as if they were.

I consider a species to be a construct one that facilitates communication about a a group of organisms that share a certain density on what might be called a 'incomplet niche graph'.  However it may be best seen as an imaginary exercise in which we know, have recorded, the complete genome of every individual living thing and have plotted them according to a multiaxis plot of similarity, there would then be areas of greater density that we call species, even though we know that in many cases there is no absolute line, and that as new individuals enter the pool the shape of the areas of greater density change their shape on the plot. 

To me this sort of understanding arises naturally out of the ecological knowledge I have so far acquired, and therefore seems to me to be a naturally ecological point of view.

Ultimately I believe we need to give up on our somewhat battered boxes and simply map and track the genetic diversity across the world and through, albeit I accept that even if we all agreed to do this we do not yet have the ability.



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