[Tweeters] Taxonomy question answered

Constance Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Tue Sep 3 13:46:24 PDT 2019


Hey tweets, many thanks to everyone who went to the trouble of answering my question about the taxonomy of Spotted Doves. I learned a lot from all of you, and I really appreciate the time you took to educate me. You were all terrific.

The consensus is, taxonomy is tricky. Not only must a bird's DNA be sequenced properly, but for a really good family tree, all the genes should be accounted for, which computer analysis can do, but there is an element of human judgment often involved as well. This can create room for debate.

Also, there are different philosophies about how many genetic differences constitute enough of a divergence to warrant calling something a new species or putting it into a different genus. Some people are more conservative about this, while others take a more generous view, so we get some who tend to lump and others who like to split.

In the end, I was advised to choose my own taxonomic reference guide, though I have to admit this gives me much the same feeling I get when my doctor asks me what kind of treatment I want for some condition I know nothing about. Freedom of choice without knowledge is just opinion, as a sage once said. I suppose eventually these things will all get straightened out as the science community comes to consensus. It will be interesting to see how these things develop over time. - Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com <mailto:constancesidles at gmail.com>
csidles at constancypress.com <mailto:csidles at constancypress.com>

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