papilio vs. pterourus

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Thu Apr 27 22:35:32 EDT 2000

One rule of thumb I have heard is - 
- they are specifically different if an entomologist can tell them apart.
- they are generically distinct if a general biologist can tell them apart.
- they are in different familes if a person on the street can tell them apart.

If they are close enough to produce hybrids they are congeneric. For
example look at *Bos* and *Bison* which an entomologist would probably
include in the same genus. Acceptance of bird genera seems to rise and fall
on the discovery of new hybrid possibilities.

There has been a lot of hybridization of swallowtails by hand pairing and
rearing in the lab. This so far, does not indicate against full generic
status for *Papilio*, *Pterourus* and *Heraclides*. Putting all species in
one huge genus *Papilio* does obscure our knowledge of relative
relationships between the species, which are well known. This seems to me
to be not as useful as recognizing more genera.
.......Chris Durden

At 08:46  28/04/00 -0400, you wrote:
>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 

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