[Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Ilya Temkin it255 at nyu.edu
Fri Jan 30 01:23:47 CST 2009

Ken -

I'm quite certain that the notions of monophyly, paraphyly, and polyphyly apply only to higher taxa and not to species. (Monophyletic group is defined as a group consisting of an ancestral species and all its descendant species, at least sensu Hennig.) This stems from the notion that the relationship of individuals within a species is not strictly hierarchical (tokogenetic as opposed to phylogenetic). This distinction is useful because it does not muddle classifying higher taxa with studying the process of speciation, the two being distinct, however related, research programs.



----- Original Message -----
From: kennethkinman at webtv.net (Kenneth Kinman)
Date: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:00 pm
Subject: [Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

> Hi Curtis,
>        Semantics can be tricky.  If I read your post correctly, you
> regard species as "special" and perhaps "real" as well, but not "more
> natural".  I'm just not sure what you mean by the latter.  "More
> natural" than what???   And I am tempted to also ask, is a monophyletic
> (holophyletic) species any "more real" than the paraphyletic mother
> species that might have given rise to it?  
>            ----Cheers,
>                       Ken Kinman                        
> P.S.  Sorry Fred, I know that "real" gives you a headache, and "special"
> and "natural" are perhaps just as nebulous and head-producing.
> Semantics can sometimes give a lot of us headaches, but I guess that is
> the price that us curious primates just have to sometimes pay.   The
> subject of "reality" alone has confounded philosophers since the early
> Greeks, if not before that.
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