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Re: Overuse of 'subspecies'


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Posted by WW on October 01, 2002 at 09:04:29:

In Reply to: Overuse of \'subspecies\' posted by vvvddd on September 26, 2002 at 19:08:50:


An interesting topic and a source of frequent debate.

The fact is that an increasing number of systematists, and especially most leaders in the field, ARE abandoning the subspecies concept. A very large number of subspecies currently accepted are just colour varieties, and do not represent any type of evolutionayr lineage. Others are probably valid species under anything other than a broad interpretation of the Biological Species Concept.

I would suggest that your reason why ssp. are still used heavily may be somewhat on the paranoid side of reality. first, bear in mind that many species or species complexes of reptiles have not been studied for several decades, and never with modern methods, or by researchers using modern concepts. Consequently, present-day classifications are a mish-mash of leading-edge thought for recently revised forms, down to 1940s thinking or earleir for taxa that have not been looked at for a long period of time. One of the explanation for the number of ssp. still recognised is simply lack of newer studies.

It is true that breeders etc. do love their ssp. and varieties, and yes, being able to stick a name, however tenuous, to something may in some cases raise the price. However, it is also fair to say that many or most herpetoculturists are not up to scratch with conceptual developments in systematics, and take the view that if anything looks different, then it is different and ought to have a name. The subtleties of phylogeography, population genetics, etc., are not always fully appreciated in these circles, hence the persistence of outdated conceptual approaches.

Hope this helps in some way.

Cheers,

Wolfgang




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