[Taxacom] Centropyge (was: barcode of life)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Sun Jul 4 20:11:22 CDT 2010

Hi Rich and Stephen,
       I disagree with you both.  I believe that it would be best to
recognize two subspecies of one widespread species in this case:
Centropyge flavissima flavissima and Centropyge flavissima vroliki.
This is more informative than leaving them separate species.  And it
would have the added benefit that in databases like NCBI, they would be
alphabetically together.       
     I suspect that there are quite a few separate genes involved in
their coloration and that even though there may be considerable gene
flow of many of these genes, that it is not apparent beyond the zones
with swarms of intergrades ("hybrids").  Humans in the American colonies
showed how quickly the children or grandchildren of mulattos could pass
for black or white depending on whether they married blacks or whites.
Yet we don't use that as evidence that blacks and whites are separate
species.  Millions of white Americans have no idea that they have black
ancestors (and vice versa).  
      So I don't think coloration is a very good basis on which to
assess gene flow, even for individual coloration genes (much less all
the many other genes that have nothing to do with coloration).  Anyway,
I really don't understand why ichthyologists, like entomologists, are so
reluctant to formally recognize subspecies with trinomials in cases like
this.  Perhaps they are put off because mammalogists and ornithologists
have often overdone the splitting of subspecies.  But to me it seems
like there must a happy medium that is optimally informative and useful.

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