Speciation in Protea cynaroides

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cyghost (June 10, 2010, 07:32:09 AM):
Very nice, Hermes.
Mefiante (June 10, 2010, 08:40:16 AM):
Well done, Hermes. Just one minor quibble where you write, “An important criterion [for deciding species] (though not the only one) in taxonomy is whether they can produce descendants naturally” it is important to note that those descendants must be biologically viable. For example, a horse and a donkey can and do naturally produce offspring usually in the form of a mule though sometimes a hinny. However, all such male and most female horse+donkey offspring are sterile, i.e. they cannot procreate and are therefore not biologically viable. That is why horses (Equus ferus caballus) and donkeys (Equus africanus asinus) are different species, and their offspring are not a species at all and therefore have no taxonomic name.

'Luthon64
Lilli (June 10, 2010, 09:56:42 AM):
That is why horses (Equus ferus caballus) and donkeys (Equus africanus asinus) are different species, and their offspring are not a species at all and therefore have no taxonomic name.
But if mules are not classified as a species, what are they?
Agreed, Hemes, I thoroughly enjoyed that.
· Even when imported into one another’s habitats, their form remains stable;
· Even when imported into one another’s habitats, their various flowering seasons remain stable.
... We can expect natural selection to continue favouring the variants that are specifically adapted to each habitat, ...
I get species each adapting to whichever habitat they find themselves in (adapt, move or die are oftentimes the only 3 options in nature, and, if you're a plant, moving can prove difficult) These Proteas you speak of, however remain stable when imported into different habitats. Should it not follow that, given enough time we can expect species x to become more like species y if species x is imported into the habitat in which species y came to be? Next question: is it far-fetched to assume that, since species can adapt to their habitat, habitats (ie the plant species, soil composition, air-moisture content, other species etc) will over time change if a specific new specie is introduced? :-\
Mefiante (June 10, 2010, 10:32:45 AM):
But if mules are not classified as a species, what are they?
They are simply mules or hinnies, or horse/donkey hybrids, or even (infertile) equine variants, if you like. As said, they don’t qualify for biological species status owing to their reproductive incapacity, and a biological species is by definition reproductively viable. Their proper taxonomic designation is just the composite of their progenitors’ designations, namely “E. caballus+E. asinus” although “E. mulus” is sometimes used for convenience and on the understanding that it isn’t a bona fide species reference.

'Luthon64
Tweefo (June 10, 2010, 11:20:29 AM):
So a human teenager does not belong to a different specie? They must work out a new way of classification!

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