Species definitions!

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at tils-ttr.org
Wed Sep 5 18:04:15 EDT 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kenelm Philip" <fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu>
Subject: Re: Species definitions!

 > Are there, and do we know - that plants and animals are different?

 What about the single-celled organisms that may, or may not, contain
 chlorophyll? Back when there were only two kingdoms, it was totally
 as to whether these were plants or animals. The hypothetical  3 year old
 might have a bit of trouble dealing with five kingdoms, let alone the
 Woese system of domains with _lots_ of kingdoms.

RG - This is why I said
"Simple, in our Order, they have sex all the time and reproduce (replicate)
themselves ...."   By our Order I meant Lepidoptera ( the Order at hand -
not one of the 5 current Kingdoms)

 > 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.

 The Heterocera/Rhopalocera split is outmoded taxonomy, since Heterocera
 do not form a monophyletic group. And note that the family Hedylidae now
is included in the Rhopalocera, although they do not have clubbed antennae,
 and are not primarily diurnal--thus causing a problem for the hypothetical
 7 year old.

RG -- Ken you're an old guy what are you doing binging this up - I figured
one of the youngsters would. At least someone did though - just  not who I

As far as the concept of species goes, we have a number of differ-
 ent and incompatible species concepts wandering around. Most of us were
 sumably brought up on the BSC (biological species concept), according to
which reproductive isolation is the key factor involved. Before that there
 was what one might call a morpholgical species concept. However, we cur-
rently have the phylogenetic species concept (PSC), a close relation of the
ESC (evolutionary species concept). See Zink & McKitrick: 'The Debate over
Species Concepts and its Implications for Ornithology'. The Auk 112(3):701-
719, 1995. These concepts will yield different breakdowns of organisms
into species--a problem which may appear in the courts as more laws and
regulations are keyed to species, with respected taxonomists arguing for
both sides of various issues.

RG -- As I said in rephrasing Klots. This can not all be dealt with on
email. But hopefully some are being inspired to make a trip to the local
library. Or, sit down over some beverages and discuss it all.

> The trouble is that taxonomy is not simple, nor free from contro-
> versy. And the controversies will not be solved by appealing to the abil-
> ities of young children who are unaquainted with the full diversity to
> be found within any group of organisms.  :-)
> Ken Philip
> fnkwp at uaf.edu

RG -- Ah!  But they instinctively know "it all".  This is why little kids
so soon in life find their own genitalia.  My almost 3 year old grandson is
being potty trained. He has been allowed some extra nude time as a result.
He came running to may daughter (that's his mom for the technically
correct) the other day equipment in hand ".....Mommy, Mommy it get big."
How proud he was. As we all know he will find this very useful later to
help preserve our species. and some etc too.


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