[Taxacom] Integrative taxonomy

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sat Jul 31 22:47:51 CDT 2010

> If, in a taxonomist's opinion, certain characters of certain specimens are
taxonomically significant 
> (in a non-continuum sort of way), then that taxonomist has every right
(and perhaps the duty) to 
> describe a new species on that basis. 

I agree completely.

> Informal tag names are a whole different can of worms. 


> They arise from the combination of two factors:
> (1) the need sometimes to refer to undescribed taxa 
> (e.g., in conservation management); and
> (2) the fact that formally describing species is becoming 
> an increasingly long-winded, expensive, and complex business, 
> if what you want to do is impress potential employers with 
> your "taxonomic sophistication", and/or taxonomic journals 
> want to compete in the "quality stakes" with each other.

The people I know of who routinely need to deal with "morphospecies" fall
into the former category, for the most part.  Except, it usually has little
or nothing to do with conservation management, and more to do with large
numbers of morphotypes, for groups that tend to have more than one life
stage, and whose biology is not well understood.  It's usually the case that
insufficient information and/or expertise is available to make a confident
judgement as to whether a new species-level name is needed.

> I think subspecies should only ever be used for allopatric 
> populations with consistent morphological differences that 
> are however too small to indicate reproductive isolation

So....it seems to me that we are basically in agreement on this point; as
populations with consistent morphological differences that are deemed to be
too small to indicate reproductive isolation (given available information)
are prime fodder for "candidate" species.


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