[Taxacom] seeing groups and behaviors (again)

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 1 20:33:15 CST 2013


Hi John,
      Well, it doesn't matter than some humans will not mate with some humans.  That happens in any species in which females are selective about what male they breed with.  Otherwise, why would so many species of birds have males going to such great lengths to attract the females?   And a human female can reject a male for any number of reasons (different ethnicity, he doesn't have enough money, he's too short, he's too fat, blah, blah, blah).  It's a fact of life, and certainly not just human life.   
 
       As for the clines, often called a "circle of subspecies", where the extreme ends of the cline won't interbreed, the point is that gene flow is still possible between the end populations through the intermediate subspecies.  Probably not a common phenomenon, but in such rare cases, probably best to regard them as a single species as long as there is no massive extinction in the intervening subspecies (breaking that circle of gene flow permanently).  
 
       But in any case, I don't see how your objections were even relevant to my main point, that there is "an important gap between species (lineages of individuals) and higher taxa (lineages of species).                                                     
                               ------------Ken Kinman                                    
P.S.  Minor point.  I have already noted that the cohesiveness of species is not always so apparent (and thus it is not surprising that this requires taxonomists to document the cohesiveness with more thorough sampling and observation). As for American bison crossing with cattle, such domestic cattle have been known to cross with other wild species as well.  Nothing much natural about domestic cattle, and the females are certainly not known to be able to choose what males are mounting them (of whatever species).  I don't give much weight to what domestic animals breed with.  Again, not really relevant to the points that I was making.  
 



Date: Sun, 1 Dec 2013 10:01:55 -0500
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] seeing groups and behaviors (again)
From: calabar.john at gmail.com
To: kinman at hotmail.com


Ken noted "The cohesiveness of such groups is particularly obvious in huge groups, like the massive emergence of periodic cicadas, or huge flocks of birds (like the passenger pigeon once formed), or massive herds of wildebeests (like we also once saw with American bison)."



Trouble here is that such 'cohesiveness' is not always so apparent - or there would be no need for taxonomists to figure it out. The the cross between American bison and cattle renders the 'cohesiveness' problematic. 


With regard to ken's assertions that "one can easily see the cohesiveness of these species and even observe that they only mate with one another.  "Birds of a feather" not only flock together, but reproduce together.  This makes recognizing species relatively easy in such cases." this is also problematic. If one uses the mate recognition definition as Ken uses here, one can end up in all sorts of tangles, not to mention the death of Tobin. And what of some humans who will not mate with some humans? Does this make them separate species because they will not reproduce together? I read years ago in the literature that it is estimated that at least 5% of all bird species will hybridize with other bird species. And then there are the clines where adjacent individuals will mate and reproduce, but the individuals at the extremes of range will not mate, or if they do they cannot reproduce. Definitions are not the solution here.



John Grehan



On Sun, Dec 1, 2013 at 9:39 AM, Ken Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com> wrote:

Rich wrote:
"But the gap between (what we perceive as) matter, and what we construe as
concepts (circumscriptions of sets of organisms with perceived similarity of
character, and from which infer phylogenetic affinity) -- is a pretty big
gap. My response to Ken's post was concerning that gap."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi all,
       I'll try once again to steer this discussion toward how we can see more than just individuals, but also see groups of those individuals and their behaviors (especially reproductive behaviors).  The cohesiveness of such groups is particularly obvious in huge groups, like the massive emergence of periodic cicadas, or huge flocks of birds (like the passenger pigeon once formed), or massive herds of wildebeests (like we also once saw with American bison).   In such cases, one can easily see the cohesiveness of these species and even observe that they only mate with one another.  "Birds of a feather" not only flock together, but reproduce together.  This makes recognizing species relatively easy in such cases.

      However, there is a large gap between recognizing a species (a LINEAGE of INDIVIDUALS) and higher ranks (LINEAGES of SPECIES).  To me that gap is just as large as the gap between perceiving individuals (with ones eyes) and perceiving species cohesiveness in mass groups (with one's brain).  Recognizing the cohesiveness of a species of periodic cicada is quite easy, but grouping it into a genus (a lineage of species) is not.

      And thus I still think that the gap between species and higher ranked taxa is considerable and makes the rank of species special.  That is why most people (non-biologist and biologists alike) treat it as special.  And it is even more special because of Rich's gap between physically seeing groups of individuals and forming the concept that they belong to a single cohesive species.  We agree on that, but I also see an important gap between species (lineages of individuals) and higher taxa (lineages of species).

                          ------------------Ken Kinman



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