DR. JAMES ADAMS
JADAMS at em.daltonstate.edu
Sun Feb 13 16:18:01 EST 2000
Okay, I promise this is the last time!
It is clearly just a matter of degree, and quite subjective, as to
what *anyone* decides should be called a subspecies or not.
Perhaps Cris and I are not quite as far apart as we seem. I am not
suggesting necessarily that subspecies should treat each other as
*completely* distinct entities -- I agree with Cris that if this is the
case, then probably two species are involved. But both Ken and I
have made the point that if the differences are extremely minor, and
there is no evidence one way or the other whether genetics or
environmental influence or some combination thereof are involved in
establishing the difference, then you're jumping the gun in
describing new subspecies. To me, if there are *no* genetic
differences between populations, then you are dealing one entity --
period. Again, there is very little of this type of work that has been
done when naming subspecies, which is why I still dislike the way
the concept is used. Yes, it would require a lot of work, but this is
no excuse for taking the easy way out!! However, Ken's (and Cris'!)
idea of naming geographic segregates does have it's place, and
certainly can be useful when trying to pass information on (what,
did I really just say that?!). But let's not call different populations
"subspecies" when what we really mean are simply geographic
segregates, with no knowledge of the genetics or evolutionary
history of the populations involved. This is where Ken's idea really
Cris also wrote:
> If "the *populations* treat each other as something distinct"
> as James suggests, the odds are very good that two species are
> involved. I can't off-hand think any subspecies which have what I
> would call significant biological differences. Perhaps James can
> provide some examples.
Again, I wasn't necessarily indicating that the populations would
not mate at all, or not even necessarily have significant intermating
or other social interaction. Treating something as distinct could be
something as small as some different behavioral characteristic, or
larval foodplant, etc. And, yes, I can think of some generalized
examples (though I would have to go back and review specific
papers from those seminar classes I had in college over ten years
ago!!) -- certain bird subspecies and slight differences in calls,etc..
I don't remember which birds or subspecies, but I do remember
slightly reduced, but certainly not eliminated gene flow between
subspecies. And I could give a number of plant examples, but I
don't know that we want to go into species/subspecies boundaries
in the plant world!!
Dr. James K. Adams
Dept. of Natural Science and Math
Dalton State College
213 N. College Drive
Dalton, GA 30720
Phone: (706)272-4427; fax: (706)272-2533
U of Michigan's President James Angell's
Secret of Success: "Grow antennae, not horns"
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