Any non-aggressive folks interested in discussing taxonomy?

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Rick

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No, you really have to be a systematic taxonomist to understand how they/we think. We?- I'm trained as a fish systematist, just don't "practice" for a living anymore. Names aren't made up just to publish stuff. Other than collecting specimens and maybe traveling to other museums, taxonomy is a pretty inexpensive science compared to many other disciplines (like the mucho costly pharma/bioengineering research I do now). So grants are usually geared to conservation/biodiversity. Systematists (most?) do their thing because they honestly can't help it- they want to know the truth and more searching leads to more knowledge leads to changes. New techniques give more areas to look... It's like a neurosis! I know it seems weird, but we're like the Rainmen (and women) of biology. Imagine living your life wanting to put name tags on everything- the sock drawer, your left and right shoes, the hangers in your closet. Really. I managed to dodge those tendencies long ago, but replaced it with systematic taxonomy and now managing a lab and our collection to redirect that energy a little more usefully. Shoot, at least plants sit still long enough to stick a name tag on them. Fish never stand still long enough! When a name changes or a new variety/form is created, it's hard for me to not change a tag- just like if someone swapped the tags for the left and right shoes. Make a little more sense?

-Ernie
Actually it does Ernie, but I've also been in the lab/academia aspect of science for many years and saw a fair amount of systematic taxonomy dissertation projects to keep up with the publication quotas. I work in ecology and eco-toxicity now. Recently we had to justify (and possibly replicate) a toxic benchmark for a given species of freshwater clam (from Iowa). Clam taxonomy is as messy as every other organism taxonomy. Ultimately the EPA had accepted an archaic name for the species of clam that was tested in the mid 90's, but I must have spent 2 days literature search trying to figure out all the name changes to come up with a good guess at what species was actually tested (and used to justify discharge permit limits for the State of Iowa). The constant name tag swapping can really make it frustrating and hard to replicate work in other fields. So I got to get my digs in too.
 
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Ernie

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Actually it does Ernie, but I've also been in the lab/academia aspect of science for many years and saw a fair amount of systematic taxonomy dissertation projects to keep up with the publication quotas.
Fair enough, I suppose. But I never got that impression from the curators at the USNM or profs at GW or any of the fish folks at meetings I attended. There are plenty of ways to advance the science without publishing frivolously IMO. And a grad thesis project that is strictly taxonomic (i.e. revisionary or new descriptions) in nature is not usually a very good one (there are certainly exceptions). Surely it exists though. Good thoughts, Rick.

-Ernie
 

smartie2000

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Scientist should stop describing paphs without field data because people are making artificial hybrids. That is sort of embarrassing for the scientist...
Phragmipedium tetzlaffianum is one we don't have any data for yet!
 

VAAlbert

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Is there anyone out there that feels Mexipedium xerophyticum should instead be known as Phragmipedium xerophyticum? Of course, Mex is covered by CITES Appendix I since the Phrag name is valid and a synonym.
 
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Ernie

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Heck no!!! M x breeds with, like, nothing. If all those Cattleyas can intermingle with Laelias, Rhyncos, Soph, Brassia... and they are all different genera, I see no reason two beasts that can't interbreed should be collapsed into one genus. Noway, never, ever. Not like my opinion is worth a damn in the grand scheme, but I feel strongly about this one.
 

PaphMadMan

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Is there anyone out there that feels Mexipedium xerophyticum should instead be known as Phragmipedium xerophyticum? Of course, Mex is covered by CITES Appendix I since the Phrag name is valid and a synonym.
I think it is clear that xerophyticum is more closely related to Phrags than to anything else. It would presumably go alone into its own subgenus or section, so it would really be a distinction without a difference, as any simple lumper/splitter debate is. Species, Genus etc. is an organizational structure we try to impose on the real world. The relationships are real, but where to draw the lines we want to draw is subjective.

Having said all that, I agree with what others have said about maintaining Mexipedium separate from Phragmipedium. It is convenient, logical, and a reasonable representation of the real relationship.
 
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Kavanaru

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...but rumors persist that there are seedlings with intermediate leaves...
there are also rumors that Bigfoot walks on two legs, inhabits North America and has been seen near some cities/towns.. that does not make it a real Homo macropedulum sub. americanus :D

Just kidding ;) what I actually mean is that rumors are just that: rumors, and you cannot justify any taxonomic change based on them...


as per similarities.. also not a good reason... many Epidendrum sspp have plants that look like Cattleyas and many others have flowers that look like mini versions of Cattleya flowers. However, they stay on their own genus... Also, Hornbill resemple Toucans, and they are kept in different Genus and even Families ;) similar examples could fill a whole book...

as already mentioned, the fact that Mexypedium cannot breed with Phragmies, and also the plants structures (e.g. ovarium) looks different, then you have good reasons to think they are not the same Genus
 
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Drorchid

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I think based on the morphology of the flowers, the leaves, the plant habit, where it grows, and its breeding habit (or lack of, as it will not make any viable plants that will produce flowers when crossed to a Phragmipedium), I would put it in its own Genus. I agree, it is probably the most related to Phragmipediums, but as the differences are so big, I think it is warranted for it to get its own genus. My guess is that early on in the evolution of Phragmipediums, this particular species split off early from the ancestal type, and that later on species within the genus what we called Phragmipedium were formed.

Robert
 
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Drorchid

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...but rumors persist that there are seedlings with intermediate leaves...
What do you mean by that? we had a large population of Mexipedium growing here in the nursery, and I have sibbed and selfed a bunch of plants (and crossed them with Phragmipediums, with no success beyond little seedlings that formed in the lab and than crashed), but I have never seen much variation when it came to leaf type, they all looked like the "standard" Mexipedium leaf to me.

Robert
 

VAAlbert

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Hi Doc: I've only heard rumors... persistent ... but have seen nothing in the flesh. Indeed, sibbed and selfed plants are found quite frequently. Let's distinguish these carefully from 'Windy Hill' and 'Oaxaca' divisions so as to preserve the original from nature.
 

VAAlbert

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BTW, Windy Hill and Oaxaca are definitely different -- I've had both in bloom this month. Plus the foliage is distinct.

Best,

V.
 

VAAlbert

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gosh, I had fun here!

A NEW QUESTION FOR THE GANG:

Does anyone view chromosomes as important for slipper taxonomy, etc?

Vic.
 

VAAlbert

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We are working on Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) to study chromosomal evolutionary dynamics in the slippers -- very, very interesting so far! You get a lot more information than simple chromosome counts.

Check out this image:



The blue things are the chromosomes; the red (strong to strongish) and green sites are the main loci that code for genes that ultimatelt help make all proteins, and the dispersed red stuff indicates that some of that type has spread throughout the genome in an unexpected manner. Perhaps because this individual is a hybrid. Note also that there are THREE strong red blotches, but there should be an even number in a homozygote -- thus a heterozygote for this chromosomal trait.

Our work is on species, but clearly of interest for looking at hybrids as well. Implications can be many, and we are trying to sort things out as we speak...

Best,

Vic.
 
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