Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX
Norbert.Kondla at gems3.gov.bc.ca
Tue Sep 4 12:52:48 EDT 2001
Just to add to Alex's PS re the importance of placing organisms in their
ecological and geographic context. It is a sad fact that some people take a
brief look at museum specimens and conclude that name Y is intermediate
between name X and name Z. They then further conclude that therefore these
are all the same species or that there is no point in recognizing them as
subspecies. Unfortunately people who do such things all too frequently have
zero knowledge of the geography and ecology of the areas that the named taxa
inhabit and they make the erroneous assumption that visual 'intermediacy'
equates to taxonomic 'intermediacy'. A quick example comes to mind. One
correspondent has expressed the view that Polygonia oreas threatfuli is
intermediate between Polygonia oreas silenus and Polygonia oreas oreas and
therefore it does not deserve a subspecies name. This is bizarre logic. The
published record is quite clear that all three taxa are geographically
isolated (ignore the published range maps because they join the distribution
records on the basis of assumption;use the published distribution maps) and
live in quite different ecosytems with distinct biogeographic histories and
there is no evidence of any interaction that could produce 'intermediate'
specimens/populations. The published distribution information in terms of
spatial deployment on the landscape makes it perfectly clear that threafuli
cannot be intermediate in a real biological or ecological sense. If someone
is sitting on evidence of continuous populations linking these taxa then I
would sure like to see that published. Further, silenus is grossly and
obviously different from both oreas and threatfuli. My recollection (subject
to a literature check) is that silenus was published as a distinct species
and nothing has ever been published to demonstrate otherwise. Of course we
should not discount the influence of differing color and pattern
discrimination skills as a driver on some of these taxonomic issues :-)
From: Grkovich, Alex [mailto:agrkovich at tmpeng.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 8:44 AM
To: 'Ron Gatrelle'; Leps-l; gwang at mb.sympatico.ca
Subject: RE: Why Mitoura?
Ron's writings on taxa, systematics, and the classification of Lepidoptera
are always insightful, informative, based on fact wherever possible, and
followed up with references. They are always in keeping with the methodology
that we grew up with.
The recent, "modern" systematics can be summed up in three words: "Red
P.S. One more comment: Recent writings almost totally ignore Life Zones,
Rainfall Zones and other important and interesting factors related to
butterfly distributions to the point where one might suppose that different
species/subspecies have range limitations based upon chance or "personal
decision"; as if a Hoary Comma is not found south of, say, the White
Mountains of New Hampshire because it is too lazy to fly southward.
Naturally, there would be no reason to point out that such a species might
not range south of the Canadian Zone forest. God forbid that we "modern"
scientists get that highly technical. Why doesn't someone finally inform the
"masses" the very simple fact that if one leaves the Lower Austral Zone he
or she will probably not see Palamedes Swallowtails? Is this too difficult?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ron Gatrelle [SMTP:gatrelle at tils-ttr.org]
> Sent: Saturday, September 01, 2001 2:39 AM
> To: Leps-l; gwang at mb.sympatico.ca
> Subject: Why Mitoura?
> "gwang" <gwang at mb.sympatico.ca> wrote
> > Hi Ron,
> > Perhaps you've explained this already in a previous post and I missed
> > it, but why is Mitoura a genus? In Butterflies of Canada, the authors
> > give the following reason for regarding Mitoura as a subgenus of
> > Callophrys: "The tenuous nature of the characters separating these
> > 'genera' were illustrated by Warren and Robbins (1993) in their report
> > of a hybrid between 'Incisalia' augustinus and 'Callophrys' sheridanii.
> > In particualr, the valve 'cap' (a sclerotized thickened area at the apex
> > of the male valve), used to characterize Incisalia, is shown to be
> > present also in Mitoura and Callophrys, but expressed to a lesser
> > degree." (page 25) Is this somehow incorrect, or has some new evidence
> > been discovered which justifies this split? Are the other 'subgenera'
> > really separate genera?
> > Peace,
> > Xi Wang
> Good topic. I have actually been wondering when this topic would be
> No I have not addressed this publicly but am happy to do so - although
> email style dictates some brevity which is not my forte. This is such an
> important topic I want to answer your post to the general audience.
> You have asked the wrong question. The question is not- why is Mitoura a
> genus - but why the heck are some not recognizing it as a genus and
> it (and other genera) under Callophrys? In the B.of Canada they give
> reason - which is pretty lame.
> They base their decision primarily on the _"report"_ they referred to by
> Warren and Robbins. So lets look at this "report".
> 1) Why is it called a report? Because it is _not_ an article.
> 2) It is a "general note" - a secondary type of "report" below a truly
> professional level but just above a Newsletter type of report. And way
> way below the type of definitive scientific systematic paper that deals
> with taxa at the generic level.
> 3) The Note is basically one page of text, one page of pictures and one
> page of a chart.
> 4) The Note has nothing to do with assessing and concluding a generic
> level matter. It is the simple reporting of what the authors themselves
> called a "presumed hybrid" between what they referred to as Incisalia
> augustinus and Callophrys sheridanii. They _never_ call augustinus a
> Callophrys. The word Mitoura is mentioned once - in passing. They never
> render a verdict relative to generic rank or alignment - simply because it
> is not an "article" about that topic but a "note" on a "presumed hybrid".
> (Which by its picture looks much like a simple augustinus aberation to
> Here is the very last sentence in that paper - their conclusion if you
> "While the presumed hybrid provides no information on phylogeny within
> Callophrys (genetic similarity is shared primative traits derived from the
> last common ancestor), it indicates that Incisalia and Callophrys are
> genetically very simalar, whether they are considered subgenera or
> 5) This Note makes no congeneric conclusion WHATSOEVER. "Incisalia AND
> callophrys" is how they leave it.
> It is apparent that between the lines Warren and Robbins _opinion_ is
> that they lean to (or consider) these various species congeneric. Many
> others do not share that opinion. Nor is anyone obligated by any rule
> ICZN) to follow it. Genera and subgenera are very subjective taxonomic
> categories. The question is _not_ why are Incisalia, Mitoura and others
> split out - the question is why the heck were they lumped after decades of
> stability as full genera based on some "note" on a "presumed" hybrid?
> There are various kinds of intergeneric etc hybrids. Just because one
> can cross Troides with Ornithoptera are we to now just eliminate one
> Are we to just return to the days of only Thecla and Papilio? An
> X sheridanii cross in and of itself means nothing. Which, by the way, is
> not even a fact. The specimen was collected amid a 100% colony of
> augustinus. The authors acknowledged that the nearest sheridanii were a
> good 100 meters away. You should see a couple of the wild grynea
> aberrations I have - especially one which will be in our next TILS
> Let's talk about real Elfin science. In 1992 Dr. Kurt Johnson
> a 141 page research paper on the Palaearctic "Elfin" Butterflies. In this
> European published generic level monograph he also briefly touched on the
> Elfins of the new world. Here is a real good question. Why did the authors
> of B. of Canada ignore this science? I bet they did not ever know of it -
> that's why. I have discussed this paper before on Leps-l and at one point
> posted the paper's entire generic layout of the North American species.
> is Deciduphagus augustinus by the way since Johnson's paper.
> Butterflies of British Columbia 2001 by Guppy and Shepard utilizes
> Mitoura and Callophrys as genera. The Massive 1998 Systematics of Western
> North Ameircan Butterflies utilizes Mitoura and Callophrys as genera. The
> 1997 Butterfies of West Virginia by Allen employs Mitoura not Callophrys
> the appropriate genus. Nielsen in the 1999 Butterflies & Skippers of
> Michigan likewise does not use Callophrys but Incisalia for the relative
> eastern taxa.
> There are several larger questions here. The informed opinion of some
> of us is that way too much taxonomy is now being presented in books for
> public consumption based only on the opinion of a "click" and not
> science. This is taxonomy by decree - not research. Don't be surprised if
> science demonstrates that siva and grynea really are different species
> And people think they are getting stability.
> Xi, thanks again for opening up this topic. Don't be surprised if some
> professional jealously now pops its head up and the clicks begin to butt
> heads - or be butt heads.
> Ron Gatrelle, president
> The International Lepidoptera Survey
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