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RE: [Aroid-l] Hybrids?

  • Subject: RE: [Aroid-l] Hybrids?
  • From: "D. Christopher Rogers" <crogers@ecoanalysts.com>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 09:58:48 -0800
  • Importance: Normal


I am not a botanist, but I am a professional zoologist and a taxonomist at
that. In zoology, hybridizability is the defining character for genera; if
the gametes from two species can form a zygote, whether that zygote develops
into a sexually viable or inviable (sterile) adult, then the two species
belong to the same genus. There are of course separate rules for
parthenogenic organisms. Obviously this definition will not work for plants
where, for example, in the orchids, hybrids between genera, tribes, and
subfamilies occur, even though the plants are from opposite corners of the

But something that all taxonomists need to keep in mind is that unlike the
species (or specific) designation, which is an exclusive concept, all other
taxonomic categories (genus, tribe, subfamily, family, on up) are inclusive
categories. If we keep emphasizing the differences between groups we run
into the problem of putting each species in its own genus, each genus in its
own family, and so on. At that point the taxonomy become meaningless.

So, in nature there are natural hybrids. This means that there is gene flow
within genera. There are also entities called stabilized hybrids. These are
reproducing populations of hybrids that have a stabilized set of characters,
and are capable of continued existence without input of new genetic material
from either parent taxon. Every once in a while, I hear of a species that
has been discovered to be in actuality a stabilized hybrid of two other
taxa. But they are functioning independently of the two parent taxa.

Stabilized hybrids typically appear not because the two species are
overlapping in distribution, but because they very rarely meet. In someplace
remote to both species, but rarely colonized by each, they have few mate
choices, and often choose the congener. These resulting hybrids often have
all the best characteristics of both parent taxa, maybe giving them the
characteristics they need to survive in a peripheral habitat. This can be a
source of speciation.

I hope my ramblings are of some use,

D. Christopher Rogers
Invertebrate Ecologist/Taxonomist

EcoAnalysts, Inc.
(530) 406-1178
166 Buckeye Street
Woodland CA 95695 USA

? Invertebrate Taxonomy
? Invertebrate Ecological Studies
? Bioassessment and Study Design
? Endangered Invertebrate Species
? Zooplankton
? Periphyton/ Phytoplankton

Moscow, ID ? Bozeman, MT ? Woodland, CA ? Neosho, MO ? Selinsgrove, PA

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