Common Names update

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Mon Apr 1 17:37:16 EST 2002

In order to be distinguishable as a subspecies, two (or more) taxa must differ
in one or more recognizable features.
In some taxa, size alone is a sufficient criterion, but insects show a lot of
size variation depending on nutrition and phenology.
Color patterns are commonly adduced as evidence of subspecific difference, and
in birds this may reflect subtle shades of reddish-brown vs brownish-red, for
Birds and butterflies have lots of nice, morphologic features to hang a
subspecies on.  Many other taxa of insects seem to have visible fewer features
to vary, and when they do vary consistently (i.e. wing venation, spurs), they
are likelly to be called species.  At least that comes from my not knowing much
about most insect orders. I suspect that with increasing attention that Odonata
are getting, more subspecies will be detected since they have patterns to vary,
which supports the contention that the number of subspecies relates to the
number of students.

Mike Gochfeld

Mike Quinn wrote:

> Ron, In your three replies, you attempted to rebut every single sentence
> except the following:
> "There's a strong correlation between the number of subspp. a taxon has and
> the number of amateur enthusiasts involved. Examples include Tiger and
> Longhorn Beetles, Butterflies, Orchids, and Cacti (though the latter two are
> further split by crossbreeding). I believe there are relatively few subspp.
> described for Moths, Diptera, and Hymenoptera. This is not to suggest that
> there is no utility to subspp. Apis mellifera L. has numerous important
> subspp."
> This is the crux of my view of subspecies. If someone tried to publish a
> paper today describing a bunch of subspp. of Staphylinids, Braconids, or
> Chalcidoids I think he or she would be politely asked to get a life.
> Your reference to the doctor with too many patients is an apt analogy for
> today's ever older and ever fewer systematists. I think their time would be
> best spent working on the many entomological groups which have no specialist
> rather than further dividing the charismatic butterflies.
> Mike Quinn
> PS: I don't recall mentioning my political persuasion. For all you know, I
> voted for Nader!
> ===
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>    For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list