Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at tils-ttr.org
Tue Sep 11 04:51:51 EDT 2001

Bill Yule wrote:

>     The only "real" species is the individual you are holding in your
> hand that was extracted from a wild population.  The species concept is
> an intellectual corral that we attempt to erect around wild populations
> that share, 1. A common ancestor. 2. A common gene pool. 3. A high
> degree of morphological (also chemical, molecular, etc.) similarity 4.
> The ability to sexually reproduce with others within the corral.
> Individuals that we extract and examine from within the corral we say
> belong to  "that species."  Individuals that we examine that are outside

Since we are concerned specifically with Lepidoptera I would deal with
these four points as follows.   I would have only two groupings.  First and
foremost would be point 4 - the ability to reproduce within the corral
_only_ .  This in fact is what makes the corral. Which is why there is no
human subjectivity to it - only observation and documentation. The second
delimiting natural species indicator (not human construct) is common gene
pool (2).  That's it.

Factor 1 should be thrown out as ancestry is totally irrelevant to a
butterfly/moths existence in the now as a species. It is no more relative
than the next taxon or taxa or none that may arise in the future. Species
are what is - period.  Now, when we get into higher assemblages where human
subjectivity (guesswork) becomes more of a factor, such factors as ancestry
can become very important indicators. (The future would be good to know
here too but we do not have crystal balls or time machines yet.)  We can
focus so much on the past link - evolutional species to species junctions -
that we end up ignoring that which is clearly definable on each side of the
link - species.  This is a great flaw with evolutionists - they are
linkitized. They are like a person at the tiny junction of the Mississippi
and Missouri rivers trying to desperately figure out the "rivers" at their
link, point of transition. In the mean time they miss  _both_ of the whole
rivers.  They have been driven to this obsession by the creationists
(beginning with Darwin) . Without links they have no evolution. Thus, the
parts are philosophically more important than the whole. Creationists are
just the opposite. They are obsessed with wholes. For if there are links
they think there is no God and they are but a fancy monkey. This is why
both groups so often use the word "believe".

Factor 3 is too unstable for consistent use. In Heliconid species for
example the phenotypes/morphology can be so varried that they will in and
of themselves lead to false conclusions. Pharamones as chemicals are only
partially good as my understanding is that some will draw multiple species.
Molecular studies will differ in different groupings and in cases can not
render a verdict solomente. These are most useful in assessing larger group
relatonships - but even there things are not as organized or cut and dried
and the average lay person has been led to believe.

The best definition of a species remains within themselves.  As has been
pointed out by several here, the butterflies have no problem knowing what
their species are. (Individual hormonally driven males prove noting other
than some male leps would become rapists/perverts just like in every other
animal group I know of.) Thus, determining what a leps species is, is only
difficult for people. The easiest way is to just put some of those _we_
hold in question as to if they are conspecific or not from Europe, Asia, or
North American in together and just see if they do what comes naturally.
Why do DNA testing, rely on finger prints, or circumstantial evidence when
the suspect is on the witness stand their self and is perfectly willing to
admit to the crime!  Or, already has confessed.

 (Hey, we are species _____ . See I reproduced easily with population Asia.
Really, we are both _________es.  Or the opposite. Look,  I have told you a
million times Asia and I are not the same species. We tried to have kids
and it did not work.  I don't care if all our genitalia look alike and fit
(Atrytonopsis), our phenotype is the same (Celastrina), our DNA says we are
a match (rutulus/eurymedon). Read my lips - we know we are not all species
______.  She is a _____ and I am a ______. What is wrong with you people.
AAH, of course that is the problem you are people and we are Leps. Hey, you
all look just alike to us too. In fact we are thinking of starting a
collection of people to find out what you already know about yourselves -
but is a total mystery to us. :-)

Normal reproductivity within specie and isolation or limitation extra
species is the only 100% indicator.  Natural hybrids are another subject.
Close leps species will do this - yet they remain clearly specific. There
is a whole different set of factors and tests by which to assess hybrids -
like Haldane's rule.  Maybe the problem, again, is with us humans - we need
to develop better ways to understand hybridization as to what it indicates
and what not. Our fence is wrong - not theirs. So let's try harder to
locate theirs.

It seems many today do not like a "biological" definition of a species - it
is out of vogue. Well, they are biological units and that should be the
_first_ means of definition. All biota posses chemicals - but they are not
chemicals. They are organisms. Thus, their primary function is organic -
biological - and with leps sexually reproductively delimited.

> Individuals that we extract and examine from within the corral we say
> belong to  "that species."  Individuals that we examine that are outside
> the corral we say belong to "another species". Individuals that are on
> the fence somewhere we say are "subspecies". Those on the fence may
> struggle off the fence and wind up outside the corral and then a
> taxonomists comes along and says "hey this is a new species, I'm going
> to describe it."  The individual on the fence may stubble and fall back
> inside the corral and get reabsorbed into the wild population there:  It
> does not become a new species or a subspecies.

I think I understand what Bill had in mind conceptually here and so my
points which follow are not directly relative to what he actually had in
mind. But that is OK as I am not writing any of this for the purpose of
contradicting  Bill or to undo his points.  I am using his post as a spring
board to put forth my own points and their own merits - for consideration.
Like two lawyers who present their arguments and then go play golf together
while the jury decides.

This does remind me of something else though. There seems to be a
philosophical contradiction in some of these posts. While there is talk of
artificiality and subjectivity and thus freedom of alignments in ranks -
the bottom line is intolerance of subspecies and splitting. One can not
have it both ways.  One can not say that all is just subjective human fence
making and then turn around and scoff at others fences and virtually demand
that theirs be torn down and the lumpers adopted. If all is a human
construct then all is equally valid and it is just a matter of choice. In
practice this is not the way it is.

Back to this ..".The individual on the fence may stubble and fall back
> inside the corral and get reabsorbed into the wild population there:  It
> does not become a new species or a subspecies."  I think that Bill is
saying here that the entity begins to leave the species nitch but does not
make it out. It thus does not become a new species or subspecies as it
didn't get out "far enough".

But, if gray begins to evolve out of white and then becomes a black
segregate that is divergent evolution. If the black begins to then return
to mingle with the white and totally rejoins with it that is a type of
convergent evolution. However, the phrase "fall back into" is evolutionally
impossible if it means to return to the previous state of being. Once
evolved _nothing_ can return to what it was. This is because of the second
law of evolution - Everything is always advancing, becoming something new.
It may be more or less primitive in this newness - but it can never be what
it was. Thus, in this convergence both the white and the black have
converged - not just that which went out (the black = new
species/subspecies). One did not just "return" the other had to accept it.
Thus, in this mutual convergence a new entity has been created as what came
back into was not the same as what went out.  It may not even look much
different to us humans but it is a whole new evolutionary construct with
entirely different potential than pre convergence.  In fact, this is a new
subspecies because what it is has never been before.

 Ron Gatrelle


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