Common Names update

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Mon Apr 1 17:37:43 EST 2002

Mike, Ron and others,

Mike is certainly correct that from the standpoint of insect systematics, we
would do better to spread our nets more widely rather than more finely.

But Ron is correct (if I understand his motives) that from the standpoint of
conservation and natural history, we may learn more from intensive systematic
work on butterflies, exactly because they are charismatic. In this Ron is in
essential agreement with Paul Ehrlich's embrace of "model" organisms for study.
Group hug everyone. Hyperintensive population, metapopulation and subspecies
research will give us all sorts of clues about speciation, colonization, local
extinction, local adaptation and the effects of random genetic drift. These are
worth something too.

There is a lot to be learned from both extensive and intensive systematics, and
my inclination is to encourage researchers to follow their own dreams. Not that
this list needs much encouragement.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at

PS Butterflies are popping up in Northern California. Pieris rapae Cabbage
Whites, have been out for months of course. Battus philenor, Pipevine
Swallowtail has become common along the American River, Sacramento County. This
weekend I saw a Pontia sisymbrii, Spring White and a Ringlet, Coenonympha tullia
(one of many subspecies (or species?) ranging even into Eurasia?) in Oak
woodland in Sonoma County. In Berkeley (returning daughter to school), A
Celastrina ladon, Spring Azure was puddling in the dormitory parking lot. There
are surely more species out there, but my observations will be neither extesive
nor intensive until this gas bubble in my eye is history.

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!
> ===
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