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Unpacking the species conundrum: philosophy, practice and a way forward

Shanker, Kartik and Vijayakumar, S P and Ganeshaiah, K N (2017) Unpacking the species conundrum: philosophy, practice and a way forward. In: JOURNAL OF GENETICS, 96 (3). pp. 413-430.

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1007/s12041-017-0800-0

Abstract

The history of ecology and evolutionary biology is rife with attempts to define and delimit species. However, there has been confusion between concepts and criteria, which has led to discussion, debate, and conflict, eventually leading to lack of consistency in delimitation. Here, we provide a broad review of species concepts, a clarification of category versus concept, an account of the general lineage concept (GLC), and finally a way forward for species discovery and delimitation. Historically, species were considered as varieties bound together by reproduction. After over 200 years of uncertainty, Mayr attempted to bring coherence to the definition of species through the biological species concept (BSC). This has, however, received much criticism, and the last half century has spawned at least 20 other concepts. A central philosophical problem is that concepts treat species as ` individuals' while the criteria for categorization treats them as ` classes'. While not getting away from this problem entirely, the GLC attempts to provide a framework where lineage divergence is influenced by a number of different factors (and correlated to different traits) which relate to the different species concepts. We also introduce an ` inclusive' probabilistic approach for understanding and delimiting species. Finally, we provide aWallacean (geography related) approach to the Linnaean problem of identifying and delimiting species, particularly for cases of allopatric divergence, and map this to the GLC. Going one step further, we take a morphometric terrain approach to visualizing and understanding differences between lineages. In summary, we argue that while generalized frameworks may work well for concepts of what species are, plurality and ` inclusive' probabilistic approaches may work best for delimitation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the INDIAN ACAD SCIENCES, C V RAMAN AVENUE, SADASHIVANAGAR, P B #8005, BANGALORE 560 080, INDIA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2017 10:06
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2017 10:06
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/57728

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