[Taxacom] Centropyge (was: barcode of life)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Mon Jul 5 23:03:57 CDT 2010

Hi Rich,
       Well, I only gave the one mammal (human) example on coloration
because it's so glaringly obvious in that case.  There are lots of other
cases that could probably be cited, even outside of mammals.  Just off
the top of my head, didn't ornithologists finally decide (after much
debate) that red-shafted flickers (western North America) and
yellow-shafted flickers (mainly eastern North America) were conspecific
after all?  I'm sure they must have been far more heavily sampled than
Centropyge in the Pacific, and yet the flicker debate dragged on for
      Anyway, I too would be very interested in Anthony Gill's input on
this Centropyge case.  Maybe he wouldn't agree with me either, but I can
always hope.  In any case, there is probably a lot more sampling and
study needed for the Centropyge case compared to that of North American
flickers.  And I still suspect there is more gene flow between those two
Centropyge "species"/subspecies than meets the eye (especially of
coloration alone).         
                         Ken Kinman                                   
P.S.  Hi Curtis,
      In defense of Mayr, his Biological Species Concept was formulated
when population genetics was still in its infancy.  They didn't even
know DNA was a double helix at the time.  I don't know enough about how
his ideas evolved over the decades to comment on whether he should have
more strongly modified his views and definitions or not.  But I wouldn't
be surprised if his view of interbreeding in the 1940s was pretty broad,
painting with a broad brush.  You can't have gene flow without
interbreeding, so lumping the two together at that early phase of the
New Synthesis is perhaps understandable (although easy to criticize in
hindsight).  He was still fighting on multiple fronts at that time, even
the typological species concept.        
Rich wrote: 
P.S.  I think you're over-reaching a bit to suggest that it's
inappropriate to use color as a primary character distinction in
general, based on one mammal example. 

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