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Re: Subspecies vs. species?

Dear All,
First off I believe we all owe a vote of thanks to everyone who has so
kindly taken the time off their busy schedules to attempt to answer what
really is the unanswerable questions!!  For me, a special thank you to
Wilbert and Alistair, GREAT information, guys!!!

To put my two cents worth into the ring, I agree COMPLETELY with all that
Alistair trys to explain above, and you did a GREAT job, Alistair!!!   As I
have been involved in other scientific disciplines besides plants, a few of
which are a little more clear-cut in comparison to plants, perhaps I can
help A LITTLE with our folks understanding of the genus/speciessub species
As Alistair tried to point out above, all are some persons/Scientist`s
opinion, hopefully arrived at only after long and VERY careful study and
considerations, discussions with other experts, etc., but the bottom line
may be that there is no 'god' of science to make a final judgement as to if
a certain individual`s opinion is totally correct, and the issue remains
open to be changed IF someone comes along with new or better information
that puts the item in a new light, this happens ALL the time, and is why
science of all classes will always be in a state of flux!!
Concerning the subspecies/species 'thing" I give as an example a rather long
story as to why it is important not to jump to conclusions as to this being
an unnecessary thing.
Many years ago, one of my Mentors in Trinidad was a Scientist called Erik
Kjellisvig-Waering, who was the world expert on Euripterids, fossil and
living scorpions, and HIS personal example of a scientist that NEVER made
mistakes was the Englishman at the B.M., Pocock, who published extensively
on W.Indian and other scorpions of the world.   One of the  things that
always worried the heck out of Erik, was that Pocock had discribed a
sub-species of scorpion from a tiny Island S. of St. Vincent and N. of
Grenada called Bequea, and named it Tityus smithiii microdon, and said it
differed from the Grenadian species (T.s.smithi) by possesing a different
tubericle under the "stinger" (both of these scorps were quite distinct from
the species found on St. Vincent, the next Island 'up' the West Indian
chain, and from the ones found on Trinidad, the next Island 'down' the
chain).  To Erik, this did not make sense, as scorpions are particularly
'cut and dried' from an anatomical standpoint, and Erik  thought that
perhaps Pocock was to finally be caught in an error, perhaps based on only
examining one specimen that might have had a deformity, but to prove this
theory, several new/additional specimens would need to be collected from
Bequea Island, NOT an easy or common destination to visit back in those
days!!!  He made three trips there, and even with the most modern collecting
instruments at the time, U.V. lanterns, had failed to come up with a single
specimen.    I was due to go there to collect Anolis lizards for the M.C.Z.,
and told him that I`d get a few for him, and this was regaled by rounds of
laughter, as obviously since he, the expert, had failed to find a single
specimen in three extensive collecting trips, a mere boy would fail with no
U.V.lanterns, and only having two days to collect both lizards AND to try
for scorps.
To cut an already-too-long story short (er), on arriving on Bequea, I went
to the only local Grade School there, and with the lone teacher`s
permission, questioned all the 10-11 year old boys as to if THEY had ever
seen scorps. on their Island, and ONE said that he remembered seeing several
under rocks, but on a remote part of the Island, when his family was
collecting soldier crabs for food (!!). I then rented the ONLY Land Rover on
the Island, drove over to the spot with three boys 'rented' from the school
master for a few hours, and we collected over 20 specimems!!
On arrival back on Trinidad, I rushed them over to Erik`s home, and he
rushed upstairs to his study, and microscopically examined them all for a
short time, and I can see his face to this day, pale, as he said to me
"Pocock was indeed correct, that man was a genius!"  There was no way that
you could consider the Bequea specimens sufficently different from the
nominant species on Grenada to name it a new/different species, but it was
certainly different enough from the Grenada species to justify the necessity
of  sub-specific rank, which strengthened the theory of an evolving chain of
species stretching up/down the chain of W.I. islands, different species on
different islands, and though Bequea and Grenada are seperated from each
other by sea, they are part of the same island "mass", (separated  from the
St.Vincent 'mass" by a deep water channel), and for long enough for the
scorps on Bequea and Grenada to evolve to be slightly different from each
other, but recognisable as being closely related, so a sub-specific status
was very justified in this case.

Hope that this little story MAY help to explain why sometimes there is value
in sub-species status for a population, but as Alistair says, it is all in
the individual Scientist`s perception, and this is subject to change based
on additional info. or another`s interpritation.
Let`s keep talking, and Happy New Year to all!

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