Re: NANFA-L-- Moribund fish & Life Outside

Bruce Stallsmith (fundulus at
Thu, 27 Oct 2005 09:32:57 -0400

Largely it depends on reproduction. Mayr's Biological Species Concept
defines species by who is mating with whom. This is fine for, say, birds or
mammals, but is totally useless for asexual organisms like bacteria, molds,
many fungi, and large swaths of the Protista like diatoms or euglenids who
reproduce sexually but not with distinct male/female sexes (imagine
everything you know is wrong...).

Even with sexual species, arguments can be made to define species as
individuals who share a recent common pattern of descent as a primary
determinant rather than considering only where and when sex takes place.
This is, of course, the core cladistic argument, and with tropical beetles,
say, if you have a recent collection of thousands of individuals
representing small grades of difference, you can assign species based on
physical traits without spending several lifetimes ascertaining details of
sexual patterns. (Yes, I'm talking about Willi Hennig here...)

--Bruce Stallsmith
a buncha species in the Tennessee
Huntsville, AL, US of A

>From: Irate Mormon <archimedes at>
>Reply-To: nanfa-l at
>To: "nanfa-l at" <nanfa-l at>
>Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Moribund fish & Life Outside
>Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 22:13:30 -0400
>Quoting Bruce Stallsmith <fundulus at>:
> > Different species concepts apply to different organisms.
>I don't understand - how can that be?
>"You can stop kicking this dead whale down the beach and find another hobby
>horse to beat to death."
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association (NANFA). Comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of NANFA. For more information about NANFA,
/ visit Please make sure all posts to nanfa-l are
/ consistent with the guidelines as per
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get
/ help, visit the NANFA email list home page and archive at