Currawongs and things

Subject: Currawongs and things
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998 09:13:55 +1000
Morning all.

Pied Currawongs are moving through Syndal (northern part of Glen Waverley,
20 km or so east of central Melbourne) this morning, with one or two seen
flying north fairly purposefully.  These are the first I've seen around
home since a couple of flocks flew past heading south on Good Friday, so
maybe they're heading back to their spring/ summer venues.

The taxonomic debate has been very interesting.  It seems that genetics can
give an objective idea of how "far apart" two individuals or populations
are. BUT the question of whether two distinct (genotypically or
morphologically or both) populations are far enough apart to represent
separate species or not has to remain subjective because our concept of
species (and genus, and family, etc) is an attempt to put infinitely
complex natural systems and processes into a nice firm set of pigeonholes
that we can cope with.  After all, at any given time, unless evolution has
hit a sudden red light, there must be populations at all stages of
speciation scattered around the globe.  It doesn't worry the organisms,
they just get on with life to the extent that external factors (like us)
allow.  But no matter how carefully or rigidly you try to define a
difference between "good" species and lesser levels of distinction, there
must always be some grey areas.

In the meantime, tick your albatrosses in pencil?


     Jack Krohn

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