Extinction and migration

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Tue Jan 16 12:25:27 EST 2001

Dear born again revisionists,
It seems odd to me that all you Latin purists striving to maintain the purity of scientific names for butterflies, names
decided by scientists using criteria agreed upon by scientists, are now ready to reject the scientific terminology concerning
'Extinction' is not a perfect word. 'To go extinct' is an awkward phrase compared to 'vanish'. However, none of the
alternatives are perfect etymologically or in scientific usage. If the body of systematists chooses to rename a butterfly, I
will grudgingly go along with it. The body of ecologists, biogeographers and evolutionary biologists have chosen to use
'extinction' for global, regional and local events. I am not an expert in the Papilionidae and I do not argue about
swallowtails with those who are. To paraphrase my dear dead dad, are we playing science here or argue?
Is it possible that biologists get crankier in the winter?
On  migration, some literature to consult. (You may be pleased to know I am not an expert on migration so I don't care what
words you use.)
Robin Baker 1978. The Evolutionary Ecology of Animal Migration. Holes and Meier. Baker is a butterfly field researcher..
Hugh Dingle 1996. Migration. Oxford U P. insects of all sorts
Peter Turchin 1998. Quantitative Analysis of Movement.  Sinauer. plant pest guy with experimental and math research.
Dingle's book may be the most useful (and findable -- Baker is 1000 pages out of print) for ideas about why organisms migrate,
disperse or whirl around like dervishes in semantic hurricanes.
Baker has a short readable paper, The Dilemma: When and How to Go or Stay in R. I. Vane-Wright and P. R. Ackery (eds) 1989. The
Biology of Butterflies. I note also that the index of this book has entries for extinction, none for extirpation. But why
should we give V-W and Ackery any credit for knowing what they are doing?
Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu
Anne Kilmer wrote:
> "Chris J. Durden" wrote:
> >
> > You are quite correct about the recent technical misuse of the term.
> > Perhaps it is time to step back and reflect on the utility of jargonistic
> > re-definitions running away with the language. I shall restate the idea
> > from my last communication - a vanished local population does not make an
> > extinct species. Only the vanished last local population makes an extinct
> > species. Most species have become extinct. All species will eventually
> > become extinct.
> > ............Chris Durden
> >
> This is true. It is not the scientists, but the poets who create the
> language (ha ha) and, argue though you may, we will bury you.
> A handful of scientists will not decide the meaning of a word, unless
> they made it up in the first place. Extinct does not mean somewhat
> extinct, mostly extinct, extinct on Thursday mornings, or extinct in my
> back yard. it means all gone, all over the globe, there are no more of
> this unique creature who has no relations (doddammit) with identical DNA
> but brown fluffy eyebrows or some such.
> (Shall I explain the word unique? I once had to kill a reporter who
> maintained the case for "almost unique" and who happened to be smaller
> than I. Or was it "somewhat unique". )
> You can't be somewhat unique any more than you can be somewhat dead.
> That goes double for extinct.
> Perhaps the works cited require correction? I'm with Chris.
> I'm tired of bearing a banner mourning the untimely demise of something
> that in fact just moved across the street. I want my fights to be about
> something real, that I care about.
> I care deeply, madly, hopelessly about habitat destruction. I see it
> happen all around me, and I mourn, I mourn.
> And I am not comforted by the inclusion of bugs that fly for two weeks,
> and nobody has looked (thank you, Leroy) for the adjectival
> caterpillars.
> Call this a millennium? I scoff at your millennium. I want all this
> fixed, now, today.
> > >ps The US president select is one of the most embarrassing figures in all of
> > >our nation's presidential history.
> snip
> >
> > Ok, so more than half of us did not choose him! We shall have to live with
> > this situation for the next four years. Then maybe more people will vote.
> >
> > Well, achshully, more than half of us *did* choose him, never mind the uncounted ballots. Remember the Electoral College?
> But this sort of thing always happens in three-nought years. This year,
> I'm sure everything will be much better. (Is it time for my medication,
> nurse?)
> Anne Kilmer
> South Florida
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