Name Stability

Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX Norbert.Kondla at
Fri Sep 22 10:45:45 EDT 2000

I too have wondered about this issue of "how different" before a species
rank is preferred over a subspecies rank  --  and likely will continue to
wonder.  What I have learned to date on this matter is that the answer is:
It depends who you ask.  It does seem to vary with the particular group of
organisms that one is looking at, eg, grouse vs worms vs lichens vs
butterflies etc.  It also seems to vary with the species concept that
various people prefer.  A couple of examples; in North American Limenitis
one researcher has advanced the notion that some of our admirals that are
usually treated as different species are really the same species because
they exchange genes in certain areas where their distribution overlaps.
Another example is in our Boloria where taxa are lumped by some at the
species level on the basis of a single feature of the male genitalia even
though there is zero evidence of intergradation and the taxa are remarkably
different in appearance.  The relatively recent popularity of
molecular/chemical comparisons has also had some interesting results which
like all other information is open to differing interpretations.
Application of all characters and species concepts are still unavoidably
colored by the lumping and splitting preferences -- some people prefer to
cast a wide net in applying ranks and others prefer to use more narrowly
defined ranks.  Keeps taxonomists and others busy and it is very interesting
and it will continue to irritate/perplex people who think that everyone
should use the same name or species concept :-)

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Raper [mailto:cmt.raper at]
Sent: Friday, September 22, 2000 1:23 AM
To: leps-l at
Subject: Re: Name Stability

On 21 Sep 2000 10:18:04 -0700, Norbert.Kondla at (Kondla,
Norbert FOR:EX) wrote:

Hi Norbert

>- names of organisms will become stable when pigs fly 

I agree with your general theme - it seems names are there to be
changed by someone who wants to 'make a name for themselves'!

But seriously, I often wonder (not being an acedemic) now that we are
using genetic and morphological phylogenies, is there any standard
degree to which an individual has to differ from another before it is
declared to be a new species?

Best wishes,
Chris R.

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