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Re: Princeton Field Guide



 On 01.10.2010 09:46 CEST, Jaime Headden wrote:

 David Marjanovic wrote:

 <*Varanus* is a nightmare with 70 species.>

 As opposed to a non-nightmare of 69 species? Or a nightmare of a
 single species with 70 subspecies?

As opposed to something one can handle. With genera being completely subjective anyway, this crass utilitarianism is as good a reason as any!

 <*Felis* has been shrinking for decades.>

 And this is supposed to support reductionism (splitting) in taxonomic
 practices? If one were to say, find that taxa originally combined
 into a Linnaean "genus" were phylogenetically arrayed around a series
 of more distinctive subgroups, but still collectively formed a group
 that was similar to that "standard" concept of said "genus," what
 preciesly is gained by splitting these subgroupings into equivalent
 "genera"?

That we can talk about these subgroupings at all. As I'm sure you know, the ICZN doesn't allow us to have more than two ranks between genus and species: the subgenus and the "group of species" (sometimes called superspecies, but, strangely, that term is not in the Code). The botanists don't have that problem, at least not to that extent; they're allowed to use "sections" and "subsections", and they do so a lot, which is the reason why they keep much larger genera than the zoologists do.

Obviously, the PhyloCode will eliminate this pseudoproblem, but it's still not been implemented. For months now, there hasn't even been any traffic on the mailing list of the Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature, of which I'm a member!