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Re: Taxonomy is a matter of evidence...most of the time

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Posted by Langaha on October 17, 2002 at 13:58:39:

In Reply to: Re: Taxonomy is a matter of evidence...most of the time posted by WW on October 17, 2002 at 11:10:33:

:Burbrink et al.'s study showed extremely convincingly that the conventional subspecies are not real evolutionary entities - they have been blown out of the water, both by morphology and by mtDNA, end of discussion.

Come on Wolfgang, I know you must know better than this. In many systematists minds, they haven't demonstrated anything more than population structure using a single slowly-evolving gene (cyt b) to create a phylogeny. They need more genes and characters! How can mtDNA be used to sink subspecies when gene flow will obscure their boundaries and prevent them from attaining reciprocal monophyly? The lack of reciprocal monophyly should not invalidate subspecies recognition. Elaphe obsoleta is quite arboreal and is found at high elevations. The Appalachian Mountains are not a barrier to gene flow and neither is the Apalachicola River. Their data clearly demonstrate this for the river, but they failed to sequence snakes from the Appalachian valleys (and mountains) and adjacent eastern side. How convenient! No one will deny that subspecies have been misused in the past (and so have species concepts), but the subspecies concept is simply not operational within the ESC definition of reciprocal monophyly. They used an inappropriate technique to answer something it cannot (unless perhaps there are true "lineages" that have been separated for millions of years). And the morphological study excluded most of the data that was said to be analyzed, he simply cropped his data to fit his answer. How can a type come from an "area of taxonomic uncertaintly?" What a farce!

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