Re: NANFA-- Re: Fundulus blairae

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 5 Sep 2002 16:06:59 GMT

> The keys to separate species status or not are whether each
> putative species is generally reproductively isolated, even in
> sympatry, and have they maintained this isolation for some
> period of time.


> So you have to interpret a wide range of data for species
> determination in a lot of cases, which can often be contradictory.

What's important to realize is that the species concept is an artificial
concept, imposed by humans to try to inventory and order natural diversity.
A species has no idea it's a species, and may often resist Linnean
pigeonholing. In addition to rift lake cichlids, lampreys and sticklebacks of
the Pacific Northwest challenge species concepts. As such, I've noticed
that the term "super species" is increasingly being used to define groups
of sympatric organisms that are easily distinguished by morphology
and/or behavior, yet are more or less genetically identical. In addition,
many taxonomists are throwing away the subspecies rank altogether; if
each "subspecies" is a recognizable and quantifiable unit of biodiversity,
then it's unique and should be treated as a full species. (This happened
recently with the splitting of African elephants into 3 or 4 separate
species.) The upshot of all this splitting and lumping is that the natural
world is far more wonderfully diverse than our abilities to catalogue it, with
delightful new surprises around every bend and riffle. It's not so important
that we agree on any given classification or species concept, but that we
agree that all units of biodiversity are worth protecting.

Chris Scharpf
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