[Taxacom] Neanderthals a species? (was: barcode of life)

Steve Manning sdmanning at asub.edu
Mon Jul 19 10:43:20 CDT 2010


Hi all,

I have been out of the office and am just catching up - please 
forgive the delay in responding here.

I seem to remember being taught that Biological Species were 
genetically and morphologically different and not or hardly 
interfertile, subspecies were morphologically and genetically 
distinct in some identifiable way but interfertile if given the 
chance (usually if not always occupying different habitats) and 
varieties were morphologically distinct but not genetically distinct, 
their morphological differences being attributed to differences in 
their environment (as evidenced by them being indistinguishable from 
another variety when examples of each were planted together under the 
same environmental conditions).  All of those admittedly have a 
geographical/ecological slant rather than taxonomic and of course I 
am sure gray areas exist around each of the above definitions.

Steve Manning

At 11:37 PM 7/2/2010, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>caution needs to be exercised here, as it isn't perfectly clear what 
>Rich is asking, so if you agree with him, you might not be agreeing 
>to what you think you are agreeing to!
>
>If I understand Rich, he thinks of speciation as arising from 
>subspeciation along a perfect continuum, with no non-arbitrary 
>dividing line imposed by the world, just up to us to "choose to suit 
>our purposes", so reproductive isolation just doesn't enter into it. 
>So the question, is it species or subspecies, is PURELY a matter of 
>taste (lumpers vs. splitters), as is the case for genera. Let us 
>confine discussion to allopatric populations, as it all becomes 
>mindbending if you consider sympatry. Take Geodorcus sororum again 
>as an example. I think on Rich's view, Holloway can simply choose to 
>call it a distinct species or not, and no additional information is 
>relevant. But she evidently thinks that additional information can 
>refute her current opinion, so these two models of what taxonomists 
>do would appear to be very different...
>
>I think Rich is misled by the existence of a continuum of 
>difference/reproductive isolation between populations. I think he 
>thinks that continuity=subjectivity, but I accept the existence of 
>the continuum while at the same time rejecting subjectivity of 
>species boundaries. My topography analogy was supposed to illustrate 
>that, but I suspect it has passed people by. Another example is 
>statistics as applied to say ecology: we want to find REAL 
>(statistically significant) differences in the world, but we must 
>still choose a significance level from a continuum of possibilities...
>
>It is very difficult to disentangle several related issues here ...
>
>
>
>________________________________
>From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
>To: Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Sent: Sat, 3 July, 2010 3:36:19 PM
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neanderthals a species? (was: barcode of life)
>
>
>Ken,
>
>I wonder if you could clarify something.  You wrote:
>
> >        These examples show how too many biologists still fail
> > to recognize just how difficult speciation actually is and
> > too often jump to the conclusion that differences
> > (morphological, genetic, or even
> > behavioral) indicate speciation RATHER than subspeciation.
>
>It sounds (by use of the all-caps "RATHER") that you see the process of
>speciation being fundamentally different from the process of subspeciation.
>Is that an accurate interpretation of your views?  Or, do you see speciation
>and subspeciation as different (perhaps overlapping) regions along a
>continuum of processes of isolation and divergence that exist among extant
>populations? (If you only emphasized "RATHER" as a way of disparaging
>excessive splitting at the species level -- then we are of like-mind on this
>point.)
>
>Aloha,
>Rich
>
>P.S. I can't compete with the size of your P.S.'s, so I won't try.
>
>
>
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