Species number - what is a species anyway?

Jim Cummins cummins at possum.murdoch.edu.au
Wed Feb 16 00:15:00 EST 1994


In article <1994Feb15.213428.8672 at emba.uvm.edu>
brianf at med.uvm.edu (Brian Foley) writes:

>         What is your definition of "species" going to be?  The criteria 
> used to define mammalian species do not work for bacterial species. 
Edward Wilson's latest book "The Diversity of Life" attempts to answer
the question of species number.  As I recall, some Norwegian workers
came up with an estimate of 5000 different "species" of bacteria in a
gram of soil.  Another gram of soil from a different location came up
with another 5000!  I'm not sure if the species concept is helpful in
the face of this stupefying diversity.  Perhaps the question we should
ask is what IS a species, anyway?

Jim Cummins                   
School of Veterinary Studies
Murdoch University
Western Australia 6150  Tel +61-9-360 2668 Fax +61-9-310 4144
"An inordinate fondness for Beetles"



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