Fwd: Re: Hidden species.

Chris J. Durden drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Jun 8 20:15:56 EDT 2001

>Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2001 19:14:29 -0500
>To: "Ron Gatrelle" <gatrelle at tils-ttr.org>
>From: "Chris J. Durden" <drdn at mail.utexas.edu>
>Subject: Re: Hidden species.
>    Comments -
>At 05:53 PM 6/8/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>>A couple to a few. How is that for a scientific answer?
>honest and accurate and realistically precise!
>>collectors (workers)  have bee scratching their heads over this since the
>>1800's. Harry Clench, then Steve Roman clued me into the problems 30 years
>>ago, and I've been scratching mine ever since.
>I have been puzzling over them since collecting topotypical (climbed the 
>same tree) *caryaevorus* and puzzling over other diverse "falacer" I found 
>feeding on oak, hickory and butternut. Lafontaine subsequently described 
>the latter as *boreale* which was then promptly synonymized in a rather 
>simplistic biometric study that looked at nothing from the type locality 
>or its region. I think I found *boreale* later in East Texas. Around here 
>"falacer" feed on white oaks (*sinuata* and its hybrid swarm). In SW 
>Quebec "falacer" fed on Shagbark Hickory. In W Colorado *godarti* seems to 
>feed on Gambell Oak. There are all too subtle genitalic differences and I 
>have not looked at enough individuals to see a consistent pattern.
>>But I want to direct this in
>>another direction though.
>>We have assumed for a long time that Spring Azures, Tiger Swallowtails,
>>Banded Hairstreaks etc., etc. were just real common to abundant widespread
>I have long thought that cryptic speciation is a high latitude strategy 
>for exploiting the uncertainty of available niche structure. The opposite 
>of clear speciation could be a strategy for exploiting the always (until 
>recently) present availability of often rare specialized niches. At high 
>latitudes the abundance of the rarest and commonest species approaches 
>Fibonacci distribution (the geometric form used for the creation of 
>Bonzai). Common species are very common and rare species are very rare. At 
>low latitudes the curve flattens out with the common species far les 
>common and the rare species much commoner than one would expect. This 
>relationship holds also from spring to summer (cf. lower latitude) and 
>fall, and from low altitude to high altitude (cf. high latitude). It also 
>holds from year to year with the distribution for an unusual year looking 
>like a distribution from a higher latitude. Needless to say thousands of 
>vouchers were taken to be sure the identifications were correct or to get 
>any identification at all.
>>  What we are now learning - through the efforts of
>>collector-researchers - is that many cryptic species may be cloaked in
>>these taxa.
>Yes I have said for a long time - the easiest way to discover a new 
>species is to look closely at a common "well known" one.
>>Or, the not yet species evolutional units that will produce
>>tomorrows species. So that rather than one abundantly common Azure species,
>>there are a couple fairly common, some uncommon, and possible others that
>>are so rare they may be near extinction.
>How about a situation where a rare species can, through introgression, 
>invest its genes in a common species. During interglacial times (which 
>were long) a full spectrum of common and rare species could exploit a full 
>spectrum of available niches. During glacial times (which were short), 
>rare species would dwindle as their specialized habitat shrank, yet their 
>genes would be introgressively invested in common species capable of 
>surviving in unusual habitats due to their genetic diversity. Then at the 
>next interglacial as a patchwork of specialized habitats were selected out 
>the phantom species could reform under selective pressure. Granted this 
>would never happen in a low offspring to adult organism like a sparrow or 
>a lemming, but it could in high egg number to adult insect, just as it 
>seems to in plants of a thousand seeds. A number of glacial/non-glacial 
>cycles would select for this strategy so, after the 20 or more cycles of 
>the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene we should not be surprised to find 
>genera like *Colias* and *Speyeria* with very peculiar patterns of speciation.
>>The calanus group needs the same study. Just one example. You collectors
>>and curators, go through your collections and look for
>>calanus/falacer/godarti females that have the entire ventral of their
>>antennal clubs bright vivid red. Group them together and see if a pattern
>I'll do just that!
>>David Wright is looking at this along with other head scratchers.
>>Separate them by tree associations - oak, hickory, etc. Rear. Collect. Then
>>start scratching and solving the mysteries.
>>The direction here is that the basic bedrock error of many watchers is that
>>they have been lead to believe (see the NY times Glassberg post) that
>>everything CAN be IDed  and thus then "just leave them alone" because every
>>species (esp. in the eastern US) is KNOWN. This is totally false. Several
>>times I have read of watchers saying - we saw such and such - and I think:
>>"I can't believe this. Don't they know they may well have just found a new
>>species or subspecies? Something so rare it might even deserve emergency
>>listing on the Endangered Species list!!! These people are totally
>>taxonomically blind. Who did this to them? Why aren't they being told?"
>Aha! It was the suppression-of-Taxonomy-movement that was ripe at the time 
>that our current experts were being educated! (Too many biochemists 
>resented having to make their collection of 200 named insects for credit). 
>There are some big names to answer for this. Classical taxonomy survived 
>however among a lot of dedicated little names, and lives on to straighten 
>out the mess. Taxonomy shall eventually survive the cult of numerology, 
>mathematical simplicity and the cult of Hennig and Popper to thrive on the 
>new tools of molecular biology and revel in the prospects of Bayesian 
>statistics. Meanwhile Naturalists who look closely and objectively have 
>the best chance of knowing what things really are.
>>Whatever anyone else may think - I am for butterflies and moths.
>Me too.
>>We do not
>>need dumbed-down lepsters. We need people to move beyond being novices, or
>>the cutesy factor, and to get serious about these critters.
>We need kids to know butterflies as well as they know their baseball 
>statistics or their dinosaur genera!
>>More and more
>>watchers ARE doing just this. Which is why more and more ARE seeing there
>>IS a need for "scientific" collecting and why someday they WILL see that
>>they need to be that collector. Why?  Because the patient is in the
>>emergency room and needs help now and there IS NOT time for DR. So-n-so to
>>get involved. I don't think the average watcher or collector has any real
>>clue about just how far behind professional taxonomists are in working out
>>the mountain of collected but unidentified specimens, species, genera in
>>their institutions - let alone the thousands of unknown insects that are
>>being wiped out every day without one specimen ever having been collected
>>and determined.
>All biology majors need a tropical field semester with the chance to try 
>to identify their semester sample over thei remainder of their 
>undergraduate career - for credit! That would put things in perspective.
>>Let me speak out on behalf of the butterflies. Hey! They are not all
>>calanus, or all glaucus, or all ladon. No one knows what they are - yet.
>>Somebody better find out before another extinctus gets named and another
>>habitat becomes a new subdivision for Discovery Channel armchair
>>naturalists to move into. And anyone who wants to stand in the way of this
>>finding out is not a friend of butterflies and moths.
>>PS  To Chris. Can you get me a picture of the Grishin "falacer"? or the
>>load of it?
>    He has promised one as soon as the set voucher specimen is dry.
>A butterfly in the hand is worth two in the bush!


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