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RE: C. bottae taxonomy - A new wrinkle

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Posted by: RichardFHoyer at Tue May 20 17:43:02 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by RichardFHoyer ]  
   

CK,
As for the issue of allopatry of the subclades, here is something else to consider. Because Javier's closest samples between the two subclades occurred in close proximity to Mt. Lassen, he addressed allopatry in a manner that appears to pertained to that specific region. The authors failed to consider (perhaps were not aware) that the species occurs well east of the Mt. Lassen region into far eastern California continuing across the border into western, and northern Nevada (and beyond). Thus, no explanation exists that would
advance the notion of allopatry between the two subclades where they occur far beyond Mt. Lassen. (Hind sight becomes ever so sharp after the fact.)

For instance, I have examined all voucher specimens from Nevada as contained in the U. of Nevada-Reno collection. There are a half dozen specimens from Washoe county which runs from near Reno north to the Oregon border and adjacent to Calif. Wonder to which subclade or subclades those specimens belong? What explanation might be advanced to suggest allopatry of the boas in that region? Or would it be more reasonable to suggest that the two subclades are likely to come in contact somewhere in that region?

I understand the position that until evidence is at hand, one needs to remain open to all possibilities. Thus, without overlap of specimen of each subclade having been
documented, one cannot assert that either parapatry or sympatry occurs between the subclades. On the other hand, two random samples 120 km (or 64 km) apart does not constitute verification of anything. (Persistent aren't I?)

Another way of viewing the situation is that exiting evidence gives the appearance or perception of allopatry. From my undergraduate training in wildlife science and experience since, if there is one dictum in science to which I adhere is that since perceptions are frequently in error, they should not be taken (nor stated) as if factual. A year ago March, I published a 'Viewpoint' in the Journal of Kansas Herpetology that deals with that very topic. The title was "The Fallacy of Perceptions" and I gave examples where perceptions by professionals and by state wildlife agencies have been grossly in error.

One of the best papers in herpetology that deals with 'perceptions' was published by Whit. Gibbons and titled, "Perceptions of Species Abundance, Distribution, and Diversity: Lessons from Four Decades of Sampling on a Government- Managed Reserve". He describes how one particular species was originally considered to be scarce or rare but over time, was found to be far more common and widespread than originally perceived.

I can't state for certain that Javier's assertion of allopatry is in error but the application of biological concepts suggest that the odds would indicated his position is likely to be incorrect. As a matter of fact, I don't have problems with conjecture if stated as being an option to consider. My main objection is when such speculation is stated in a manner as if it were factual.

Richard F. Hoyer


   

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