[Taxacom] Species Definition?

Hannu Saarenmaa hannu at bioshare.com
Tue May 23 11:18:10 CDT 2017

As an informatics person, I am amused to see this thread.   And 
facinated too.  Why is this still a question?

"Facts are facts, but perception is reality".  Does that that old phrase 
still rule in taxonomy?

"a species is what a community of taxonomists says it is".    
"Community" is ambigous. So, is "species".  Binomial is an attempt to 
antropomorphicically classify biodiversity.  Not bad, given that the 
idea was coined 250 years ago.  But the game has moved on.

So can we please just have numbers, or something for IDs of published 
and not yet named, suggested taxonomic concepts, so that we can speak of 

In real world there are no species. Imagine that.


On 2017-05-23 8:28, Richard Pyle wrote:
> No, wait!  Please don't automatically delete this message based on the
> subject line!
> Still with me?  Cool.
> I was curious if anyone read this:
> http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-does-it-mean-be-species-ge
> netics-changing-answer-180963380/
> And if so, whether you agree with the subtitle, "As DNA techniques let us
> see animals in finer and finer gradients, the old definition is falling
> apart"?  We all know that people are (ab)using genetic data to draw
> ever-finer lines among groups of organisms and labelling them with
> Linnean-style names (binomens, no less). But it's not clear to me whether
> this represents an evolving consensus on what we mean by "species", or if it
> is really more reflective of using a shiny new toy to boost one's CV/tenure
> prospects/etc.?
> For the record, as far as I'm concerned, the de-facto definition of a
> "species" hasn't changed since Darwin's time, paraphrased as "a species is
> what a community of taxonomists says it is".  But my question is about
> whether the baseline for what the community "says it is" has changed/is
> changing)?  Or, in the long run will we retain roughly the same
> within-taxon-group gestalt that we've generally had for a while now?
> And if the consensus really is evolving, is that a good thing (more
> recognition of biodiversity)? Or a bad thing (increasing incongruence with
> historical knowledge)?  My vote is to keep the best of both worlds and have
> a massive increase in the use of trinomials, but I imagine that statement
> will be seen by many as a troll.
> Aloha,
> Rich
> Richard L. Pyle, PhD
> Database Coordinator | Associate Zoologist | Dive Safety Officer
> Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu,
> HI 96817
> Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
> http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/staff/pylerichard.html
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