another trash name

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Mon Sep 10 23:47:51 EDT 2001

The genus and indeed all other supraspecific groups are merely artifacts of 
extinction. When a cluster of species survive we tend to call that cluster 
a genus. It is a very useful concept. It allows us to talk about a set of 
lineages that must be doing something right.
    When the extinction of intermediate lineages is incomplete and the 
groups resulting from cluster analysis are not clean, we tend to give up, 
throw away the information just gained, and lump into large genera. This is 
where subgenera and superspecies are useful concepts.
    Consider for a moment the arrangement: Homo (Homo) sapiens, Homo (Pan) 
troglodytes, and Homo (Pan) paniscus. Does that not seem comfortable to all 
but the most extreme lumpers and splitters?
..............Chris Durden
At 05:54 PM 9/10/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>Norbert and Jaakko wrote about the genus Nymphalis and other
>"genera" that could be included in Nymphalis (such as Aglais,
>Inachis, Polygonia, etc.):
>         BUT we can all still examine this information and
> > draw completely different taxonomic rank interpretations. By way
> > of example we can treat these as one genus. . . We can also
> > have numerous finely divided genera. Thirdly we can use the
> > subgenus category and for example treat Aglais as a subgenus
>of Nymphalis.
>Norbert also wrote:
>I for one prefer to keep genus names to a minimum because they
>are an obligatory category. This still leaves the subgenus rank
>available for those who wish to communicate finer distinctions
>         I agree wholeheartedly.  The genus/subgenus distinctions are
>best used this way, because the larger "genus" Nymphalis allows
>you to know that these species are a nicely knit grouping of near
>closest relatives, and the subgenus name lets you delineate further
>the species groups within the genus.
>Lastly, Norbert said:
>Natural groups are a useful concept but
>there certainly is no requirement that all natural groups have a
>formal name in the name heirarchy. The eternal question in all these
>matters is: How big (or small) do we build that corral before we put
>the butterflies into it :-) and regardless of the size, do we need to
>put a formal name on the corral ??
>         What else is there to say?  Names are great to have, and I'm
>all for familial/subfamilial/tribal/generic/subgeneric names to
>indicate perceived levels of relatedness, but you need not put
>names on each species pair, etc.
>   No offense, Ron (we've disagreed before and know perfectly well
>it's nothing personal), but I still have to contend that there is no
>such thing as a genus (or any higher taxa) in nature, and Norbert's
>post explains perfectly why.  Yes, there are some species that are
>certainly each other's closest relatives, but distances between
>species are not easy to delineate, and so are open to some
>interpretation . . . and the species themselves don't care!!
>Dr. James K. Adams
>Dept. of Natural Science and Math
>Dalton State College
>213 N. College Drive
>Dalton, GA  30720
>Phone: (706)272-4427; fax: (706)272-2533
>  (Georgia Lepidoptera)
>U of Michigan's President James Angell's
>   Secret of Success: "Grow antennae, not horns"
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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