papilio vs. pterourus
gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Fri Apr 28 08:46:06 EDT 2000
I agree that most recent books are using the broad generic concept of
Papilio (although I'm not sure this is conservative).
Interestingly the swallowtail-ologists are more likely to engage in
generic splitting. For instance, Tyler, Brown and Wilson (Swallowtail
Butterflies of North America) split (or retain) Pterourus and
Heraclides as well. It may be understandable when you have a book
entirely on swallowtails, that you would be more inclined to split,
rather than have a long monotonous list of Papilios. Others might simply
call these subgenera.
Regardless of your taxonomic philosophy or where you stand on splitting
or lumping on any level, I suspect you would enjoy "A Note on
Systematics and Philosophy" (page 26 of the aforementioned book), which
"they seem to be undergoing rapid diversification almost under our very
"We have not yet discovered a uniformly applicable and objective way to
deal with the fact that evolution is always underway and some lineages
are in the middle of the process of speciation."
Butterflies "resist attempts to establish absolute and universal
criteria for their classification, tending instead to be exuberant and
mischievious proclaimers of the variability inherent in any dynamic and
adapting natural system."
They have a lot more to say about the species level including the not
very radical statement: "Where two entities ...can be obtained by
rearing the eggs from a single female, we do not hestiate to regard them
as...the same species" Whew---it's nice to agree on something.
About molecular systematics they suggest that "this will only maintain,
increase, or rearrange the present confusion and uncertainty."
Interestingly, I couldn't find their philosophy on the genera.
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