[Taxacom] Species Definition?

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue May 23 11:22:43 CDT 2017


This is why definitions really don't matter the way that they are often
assumed to.

John Grehan

On Tue, May 23, 2017 at 12:18 PM, Hannu Saarenmaa <hannu at bioshare.com>
wrote:

> 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 them?
>
> In real world there are no species. Imagine that.
>
> Hannu
> http:/www.digitarium.fi/en
>
>
> 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-me
>> an-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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>>
>> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Years, 1987-2017.
>>
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> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Years, 1987-2017.
>


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