[Taxacom] Centropyge (was: barcode of life)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Jul 4 20:37:18 CDT 2010


> And it would have the added benefit that in databases like NCBI, they would be alphabetically together
Now there's a pragmatist! :)

On my view (a, or the, BSC), your opinion of them as subspecies is merely a fallible alternative to calling them distinct species. One or other of these two options is right and the other wrong. Your assessment of the evidence leads you to one conclusion, but my assessment of the same evidence might lead me to the other (and let's say it does, for argument's sake). You think the butler did it, I think it was the gardener! But if it turned out that gene flow really was limited to the narrow border zone, and that this was stable, then on my view I would be obliged to call them distinct species, whereas on your view you could still choose to call them subspecies because of the greater informativeness and alphabetic contiguity of doing so. And on your view I could choose to call them distinct species just because I might be getting paid per new species that I describe. I'm not sure what taxonomists would be doing in that case, but it doesn't sound to me much
 like science ...


From: Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Mon, 5 July, 2010 1:11:22 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] Centropyge (was: barcode of life)

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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