[Taxacom] barcode of life

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Jul 2 11:00:13 CDT 2010

"Right" lines, Stephen? Sounds arbitrary, axiomatic, and
true-believerish. Reproductive isolation of populations is common, yet
the populations are also still the same species. Or is there a
distinguishing metaphysical dimension I cannot see? Boundaries for
higher taxa are sometimes arbitrary but more often refer to real
clusters of species. Even Aristotle, so I am told, distinguished species
and genera.

No, the boundaries must not delimit (strict) monophyletic groups.
Certainly not. Absolutely, irrefragibly not. Paraphyletic and
polyphyletic groups may signal shared ancestry deep in the tree, and
require discursive reasoning and evolutionary theory, and facts not in
the data set to figure out what the data signify. 

Sympatric cryptic species are a special case for which each instance
must be examined. 

Richard H. Zander 
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2010 5:32 PM
To: Robin Leech; dipteryx at freeler.nl; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu; Steve
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] barcode of life

what Robin says is more or less along the right lines, but to be a
trifle clearer:

species boundaries delimit reproductive isolation (which is not to say
that it is black and white, all or nothing) and to that extent are

boundaries for higher taxa are arbitrary/subjective/conventional, and
delimit nothing "real" in the world (which is not to say that the taxa
themselves are purely arbitrary/subjective/conventional, only that their
boundaries are - the boundaries must delimit monophyletic groups)

of course, the requirement of reproductive isolation is implicit in just
about every notion of species - what sense can be made of sympatric
cryptic species if they freely interbreed? Total nonsense!

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