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Re: Ok....out of my league????


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Posted by WW on March 01, 2002 at 03:00:55:

In Reply to: Ok....out of my league???? posted by Todd Evans on March 01, 2002 at 00:47:52:

: Ok, I posted the question below without having read a post first.......after reading a couple, I feel like I am in over my head...not realizing that there are MANY people on here directly involved in the genetic taxonomical debates. But our questions do arise nontheless. One simple question is how you all come up with seperate subspecies of a currently recognized species. to what degree do the differences need to be to elicit the creation of the new subspecies? Or for that fact, breaking an entire species into smaller subspecies? This stuff just amazes me and we didn't realize how involved (well we did, but we weren't) it could be until we started researching stuff for an educational program.

Subspecies have gone seriously out of fashion - there is no fixed level of distinction which would lead to a differnetiated population to be designated as a subspecies, although some have been proposed. The fact is that most subspecies are arbitrarily designated.

The idea for a species is that it is an independent evolutionary lineage. These can be defined on the basis of various criteria, such as reproductive incompatibility in nature, diagnostic character states, genetic structure, overall differentiation, etc. The fact remains that speciation will always be a grey area. As populations differ through evolutionary time, they will start out as identical, and then gradually differnetiate through time. What we are seeing today is a a single slice of time - some differentiating groups of populations will have differentiated into well-defined species, and anybody investigating them will agree. others will be differentiated in some ways but not others, and researchers using different approaches will come to different conclusions. The point is that defining species is not a simple business, despite what some people like to think. It's also rather too complicated to go through in its entirety in a kingsnake.com post... ;-)

: P.S. Has there been any further breakthroughs made on deciding whether Naja melanoleuca will be added to the Ophiophagus genus as was rumored a while back. having 3 specimens they are certainly unlike the other naja we have.

Who suggested placing melanoleuca in Ophiophagus??? There is not a shred of evidence connecting the two. It is true that naja is a disparate genus that will probably require splitting, but none of the Naja are in any way associated with Ophiophagus - the latter is very much out on its own in the phylogeny of Elapids.

Hope this is of some help.

Cheers,

Wolfgang


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