[Taxacom] Integrative taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Jul 31 23:25:53 CDT 2010


>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

No, alas, I fear that our time of agreement is as fleeting as a marriage between 
celebrities! The quote above sounds to me like you are now using the term 
"candidate" species to mean populations that are on the evolutionary road to 
full species, but haven't got there yet. This is not AT ALL how I was 
understanding the term! Surely we were talking about cases where the evidence 
for full speciation IN THE PRESENT is incomplete??

Entomologists and arachnologists (some mites) have had to deal for centuries 
with organisms that have distinct life-stage morphotypes. Very few beetles, for 
example, ever get described as new species from larvae. This doesn't seem to be 
a problem. With some mites, there are names for larvae as well as adults, and a 
big part of the taxonomy of these groups is to eventually synonymize those names 
appropriately by association of life stages. Again, it isn't a big deal. I just 
don't see how inventing a new class of names (Candidati) helps???

Stephen




________________________________
From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; Aurélien Miralles 
<miralles.skink at gmail.com>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Sun, 1 August, 2010 3:47:51 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Integrative taxonomy

> 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. 

Indeed.

> 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.

Aloha,
Rich


      


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