Species III

Grkovich, Alex agrkovich at tmpeng.com
Mon Sep 10 12:49:31 EDT 2001

Not to reincarnate a discussion that seems to have blown itself out, but I
wanted to quote once more from Klots (I had intended to last week but didn't
have the book with me at work):

"...Again, a new book is needed because of the recent re-orientation of our
attitude toward natural science. We are getting away from the old
"descriptive" natural history that is concerned with naming things and
describing them. The "new" natural history is dynamic by comparison in every
way. It regards different kinds of plants and animals (different species)
not as separate and fixed things, but as fluid and plastic products of
evolutionary change. It probes for the relationships between species, not as
a convenience in classification, but as a clue to their origins and past
histories. In doing this it attaches almost greater importance to
"subspecies" than to species which is why so much space has been given to
these in this book. And it also recognizes the great importance as well as
interest, of studying the living thing in the field; for it realizes that
habits and behavior, and the relationships of an organism to the other
organisms around it, are all major factors in its dynamic changes through
the ages...." (Pg. xv)

Does it need to be argued that many of us have gotten away from that of
which Klots was speaking of? And that there has been, in recent years, a
reversion to the "old attitude" to natural science, that which Klots had
proclaimed as dead and past? We are back to the practice of naming and
counting without regard for even what it is that we are naming and counting.
And the consequences of such an attitude toward natural science can be
disastrous: Witness a qualified and knowledgeable Lepidopterist as Opler,
who it seems to me has been backed into a corner by this attitude and the
recent aversion to subspecific discussion, to state that "Hackberry Emperors
always have only one black FW ocellus". One can only imagine the confusion
and mis-identifications resulting from this statement. However, if
discussions on subspecies had still been in vogue, probably such a statement
would never have been made. Never mind Texas and westward, I have specimens
of celtis from Dayton, Ohio with two ocelli.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Ron Gatrelle [SMTP:gatrelle at tils-ttr.org]
> Sent:	Saturday, September 08, 2001 12:17 AM
> To:	Leps-l
> Subject:	Species III
> Michael Gochfeld wrote:
> Like Norbert I remain to be convinced that genetic distance (represented
> as
> percent) means the same thing in different taxa (or for that matter in
> diffrerent fragments of the same two taxa).
> Norbert Kondla wrote:
> Another is what I call the chemical species concept. Looking at the
> chemistry of selected gene segments is growing increasingly fashionable.
> Certainly gene chemistry, like genitalia, can provide some potentially
> useful data but there is always room for interpretation. The chemical
> species concept might argue that two butterflies with, for example, less
> than 3% difference in gene chemistry are the same species. Extending this
> logic to mammals would result in chimpanzies and humans being declared the
> same species. I have some difficulty accepting that there is some magic
> level of similarity in gene chemistry that defines what is or is not a
> species.
> ___________
>     Pterourus rutulus and P. eurymedon have the same mtDNA sequence. Yet
> they
> are obviously sympatric (co-occurring) species. This tells me that mtDNA
> analysis is just about worthless relative to these two species.  It has
> recently been determined that Phyciodes batesii batesii and P. b.
> maconensis are "very different" in their mtDNA. Yet this does not yet
> release one to say that batesii batesii and maconensis are in fact two
> species.  How many variables are there just like and in-between these
> extremes that _have_ been put forth to us as the Holy Grail final word on
> if X is a species or subspecies?  Quite a bit I bet.
>     What is going to happen when someone accidentally puts two chemically
> identical (or almost so) critters that live a long way from each other -
> and by chemical analysis have been "proven" to be the "same" species -
> together and finds they will not mate and if they are coerced to do not
> produce viable offspring?   And what will be the explanation when the two
> very genetically different "species" that live a long way apart are for
> some reason put together and it is found that they mate and produce
> offspring like Gypsy moths?
>     Genetics is not the all and all answer all at the specific and
> subspecific level.
>     We already know that genitalia are not the magic bullet either. In
> some
> genera all the genitalia are basically the same. In some they vary with
> the
> subspecific morphology.
>     There are likely differing reasons that Kondla, Gochfeld and Gatrelle
> all have a lack of total faith in what Norbert called the "chemical
> species
> concept."  Perhaps others need to not just automatically swallow the whole
> hook, line and sinker of those who so elevate this area/means of analysis
> as the arrival point of taxonomic detecting and systematic discernment.
> With this area of argument I say there is lots of subjectivity.
> Ron Gatrelle
>  ------------------------------------------------------------ 
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