Species definitions!

Kenelm Philip fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Thu Sep 6 05:39:01 EDT 2001

	I'm a bit confused now. When I quoted the first sentence of Ron's

>> 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.

and commented:

> What about the single-celled organisms that may, or may not, contain
> chlorophyll? Back when there were only two kingdoms, it was totally
> unclear 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.

Ron's reply was:

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

	That reply does not address my comment--which is limited to plants
versus animals, and has nothing to say about Lepidoptera--which I mentioned
later on in my note.

	Then to my comment on Rhopalocera/Heterocera Ron said:

> RG -- Ken you're an old guy what are you doing b[r]inging this up

	Old I may be, but I've learned a few things since I read Klots
excellent field guide...  No one ever called me a cladist--but it's been
fairly obvious for a long time that the butterflies are merely a rather
small part of the order, and do not form a clearly demarcated suborder
with all the remaining families in one other suborder. The taxonomic
differences within the so-called Heterocera are far greater than those
between Rhopalocera and the most closely related groups of moths, and if
butterflies were to be considered a suborder then there must be a _number_
of other suborders within Lepidoptera. For example, the Hodges checklist
has 5 suborders in Lepidoptera, and butterflies form 2 of 18 superfamilies
within the suborder Ditrysia. Scoble has 12 suborders, but still has the
butterflies in Ditrysia, as 3 superfamilies, along with the macro moths
and a number of microlepidopteran groups. You can't break the butterflies
alone out of the rest of the order--butterflies are just slightly odd

	One can't just dismiss all taxonomy since Holland as 'dumbing down'
the field (presumably no one actually _does_ that!)--a lot has been learned
since those days, and more is being found out all the time. Insect taxonomy
will be changing for a long time to come...

							Ken Philip
fnkwp at uaf.edu


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


More information about the Leps-l mailing list