Definition of a species

Subject: Definition of a species
From: Mike Honeyman <>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 22:03:34 +1100
I hear the sound of a can of worms being opened!

Simon there are many definitions of species, to suit specific 'species concepts'. There are different species concepts that are preferred for different phyla.

For birds the two most prevalent species concept are the Biological Species Concept (BSC) after Mayr, and the Phylogenetic Species Concept (PSC) after Cracraft.

BSC species = "groups of interbreeding populations reproductively isolated from other such groups" PSC species = "the smallest diagnosable cluster of organisms within which there is a parental pattern of ancestry and descent"

Historically the BSC could use the ability to hybridise or not as an indicator of species, but I think it's a while since anyone thought that was a reliable indicator, as Nikolas has pointed out.

Re the owls. It is possible that the morphological differences are a red herring - there could be an environmental 'switch' (e.g. the climate / habitats that prevail in Tassie and NZ) that cause a particular morphology that exists widely within the gene pool of the population to prevail. This could be tested by moving Qld birds to Tassie and see what they look like after a couple of generations (I've not looked at any of the papers by the way, just flying a theoretical kite!)




To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU