Species definitions!

Grkovich, Alex agrkovich at tmpeng.com
Wed Sep 5 13:28:45 EDT 2001

I guess what bothers me the most is that such very deep mysteries have been
replaced by endless reports of "I saw 23 Orange Sulphurs and 15 Common
Sulphurs and 223 Juvenals Duskywings and ...." And anyway, since when has it
become so important to actually count Cabbage Butterflies????

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Grkovich, Alex 
> Sent:	Wednesday, September 05, 2001 1:23 PM
> To:	'Ron Gatrelle'; Leps-l
> Subject:	RE: Species definitions!
> Ron, 
> Thanks for quoting Klots directly; I would have in my earlier post today
> but my copy of the book is at home and I am now at work. It seems
> unfortunate that we have to harken constantly back to Klots but reality is
> reality.
> There were many things that Klots pointed out and discussed that we see
> very little (or nothing) about today. Another is his discussion on the
> acid bogs in the Canadian Life Zone, and how they are "extensions of
> Arctic and Hudsonian Zone plants and animals into the low-lying Canadian
> areas..." Nowadays, too much mention is made of Bolorias, for examples,
> occurring in "bogs" without any discussion as to how and why. This is an
> example of one of the mysteries that is being lost.
> Alex
> 	-----Original Message-----
> 	From:	Ron Gatrelle [SMTP:gatrelle at tils-ttr.org]
> 	Sent:	Wednesday, September 05, 2001 1:00 PM
> 	To:	Leps-l
> 	Subject:	Re: Species definitions!
> 	I left the senders name off this and mailed to "group" to give body
> 	language to this post that I am not attacking or even addressing a
> person.
> 	Can people have intelligent debate without everything having to be
> taken
> 	"personally."
> 	It was written:
> 	> Sorry Jim!  There never has been and never will be a clear,
> simple,
> 	> black-or-white, definition of species.  The concept of species is
> 	> inherently subjective because the process that generate these
> 	> fascinating units of taxonomy is exactly that, a process.
> 	>
> 	This is not true.  As Alex pointed out there is some pretty good
> info on
> 	this in the old Peterson Klots' field guide (and lots of other
> places).
> 	Sometimes we make things more complicated than they are.
> 	1) Are there, and do we know - that plants and animals are
> different?  If
> 	so, then the rank of Kingdom is clearly defined to a 3 year old -
> even
> 	though they don't know the terms, Plantae/Animalia.
> 	2)  Are there, and do we know -  that Insects and Fish are very
> different?
> 	If so, then the rank of Phylum is clearly defined to a 4 year old -
> even
> 	though they don't know the terms, Arthropoda/Chordata.
> 	3) Is there, and do we know - the difference between Butterflies and
> 	Lobsters?  If so, the rank of Class is clearly defined to a 5 year
> old -
> 	even though they do not know the terms, Hexapoda/Crustacea.
> 	4) Are there, and do we know - that butterflies/moths and beetles
> are
> 	different?  If so, the rank of Order is clearly defined to a 6 year
> old -
> 	even though they do not know the terms, Lepidoptera/Coleoptera.
> 	5) How about moths and butterflies?  Does a 7 year old know they are
> 	different? If so, then the rank of Suborder is evident to him/her
> even
> 	though they likely do not know the terms Heterocera/Rhopalocera.
> 	6) And among the butterflies, does a 8 year old now notice skippers
> are
> 	different from other butterflies?  If so, then the taxonomic rank of
> 	Superfamily is acknowledged even though the terms
> 	Papilionoidea/Hesperioidea are yet unknown to them.
> 	7) Does the budding lepidopterist of 9 clearly see that hairstreaks
> and
> 	swallowtails are different - even their larva?  Ditto to the rank of
> 	Family.
> 	8) If the youngster lived in the 1960's by 10 he would observe and
> also
> 	know the terms and parameters of Subfamily, Tribe, Genus and
> definitely
> 	species.  His parents would have given him/her Klots and Holland or
> 	Comstock for their birthday and they would be well aware of it all.
> 	9) But back when they were 2 they would have known what species are.
> Cow
> 	says moooo, pig says oink and dog says woof woof. They may not know
> that
> 	Mama's name is Hazeleen but they know she is not the dog or cat.
> 	10) Unfortunately by the time they hit 35 and get a PhD they will
> have
> 	unlearned all this as they have now found that as extensions from
> the
> 	primeval ooze we are all the same 'thing" and nothing has really
> even gone
> 	extinct it has all just morphed into something(s) else. We have now
> 	"intellectualized" and "philosophized" the obvious to the point of
> asking
> 	silly questions like how do we know what a species is.
> 	Simple, in our Order, they have sex all the time and reproduce
> (replicate)
> 	themselves (their population) over and over. See any child's
> encyclopedia
> 	and you will find this answer. Or, just do what Alex said and check
> Klots
> 	page 296. Since most today don't have this I'll quote in part.
> "...In the
> 	first place a species is a population, composed of individuals.
> These have
> 	certain inheritable, distinctive characters in common, which set
> them apart
> 	from all other populations. They usually vary somewhat in minor
> expressions
> 	of these and other characters, but the variation is within definite
> limits.
> 	The species as a whole must reproduce itself, through the
> reproductive
> 	activities of the individuals.  This must be done successfully
> enough for
> 	the survival of the species, which otherwise will become extinct.
> The
> 	reproductive power of the species must balance the destructive
> powers of
> 	its enemies and of other environmental forces. The species must,
> moreover,
> 	reproduce itself not only successfully but naturally. We are not
> concerned
> 	with man-made "hybrids."
> 	"There never has been and never will be a clear, simple,
> black-or-white,
> 	definition of species."  Really.  Lets see... Yup, the paper is
> still white
> 	and the ink black in my _old_ Klots guide.  Looks clear, simple and
> in
> 	black and white- and 1951 qualifies as "has been".  Of course, many
> of our
> 	new genetically engineered academia just see Klots (and the rest of
> us old
> 	times) as plain has beens.
> 	> I think that instead of feeling frustrated and discouraged by lack
> of
> 	> agreement on what a "species" is, it would be a more rewarding
> 	> experience to enjoy the truly marvelous diversity presented by
> life
> 	> and appreciate the complexity of processes that generate such
> amazing
> 	> variety.
> 	> Just my two cents.
> 	>
> 	Is this the 60's?  Let's put flowers in our hair and smoke dope. Why
> pay
> 	thousands to go to college? To learn to have no absolutes? No clear
> 	definitions? To learn to be one with the cosmos and just lay back
> and enjoy
> 	it all? Yes, there is a marvelous diversity, and a great
> evolutionary
> 	complexity too. I do enjoy it. And I enjoy it more and more as I
> learn and
> 	understand it more and more. If the idiots making parking lots out
> of
> 	habitat could see that trees are oak AND pine, then kinds of oak and
> pine,
> 	Quercus and .... Perhaps they would enjoy it more than the mall.
> 	Ron Gatrelle
> 	 ------------------------------------------------------------ 
> 	   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:
> 	   http://www.peabody.yale.edu/other/lepsl 


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


More information about the Leps-l mailing list