[Taxacom] double-peaked mountains

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 29 09:40:04 CST 2013

I wrote:   
    HOWEVER, my main point is that we either have one REAL species or
two REAL species. To argue that they are NOT REAL just because they are fuzzy (are there two species or one) does not make sense to me. 

Rich responded:
I'm fine with this statement (I've given up on the whole "real vs. non-real"
thing). Where I'm not sure I agree with you is that this rank we refer to
as "species" is an apple to the relative orange of higher (and lower?)
clusters of organisms with shared ancestry and characteristics. I tend to
think of it more as comparing cultivars of apples.
Hi Rich,
       First let me say that I am perfectly fine with the idea that lineage diversity within currently recognized species is often fractal in structure.  So the fuzziness that we often see at species level definitely extends down into subspecies and their populations.  In fact, they are often more fuzzy, especially in organisms that move around a lot with consequent mixing of populations.  Lots of real, but fuzzy, things going on within species, and this can make the species itself fuzzy (but still real).
       However, when we are talking about genera, families, and higher taxa, how many species we include in a given genus or family is defined (a human construct).  I am not saying that the lineage containing those species is not real, since a group of real species would also be real.  So I guess what I am saying is that species and their populations have a reality (often with fuzzy boundaries) that is produced by nature, but how many species we include in a given genus or family is a defined human construct which is neither fuzzy or real. Only the lineage containing that group of species is real.   
                -------------Ken Kinman

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