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I understood


18 Jun 2018 - Frank E. Zachos (Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria) | June 22, 2018 - 16h00 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão


The species problem – the presence of more than 30 different species concepts combined with the vexing question which of these, if any, is the „correct“ one – seems to trigger endless and mostly futile debates. In this lecture I aim to shed some light on the fact that not all species concepts are equal and that the multitude of concepts can also be an advantage. Most importantly, however, I want to raise awareness of the fact that completely objective, non-arbitrary species delimitation in practice may be impossible. This has serious ramifications beyond taxonomy and systematics. Basically all areas of biology that use species and species numbers as a main currency will suffer from an apples and oranges problem. This not only holds for ecology and evolutionary biology, but also very much so for conservation biology! After a theoretical overview of species concepts and the fundamental problem of taxonomy as a discrete discipline being imposed on the continuous process of evolution I will highlight, by means of a number of examples, the detrimental consequences that follow if comparative biology and conservation rely only on names rather than including the data on which these names are based.


Frank E. Zachos is an evolutionary zoologist and head of the Mammal Collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna. He is also an associated lecturer at the University of Vienna, where he gives an annual lecture on conservation genetics. His interests range from mammalian and avian biodiversity, population genetics and phylogeography to systematics, taxonomy, species concepts and conservation. Most of his zoological work deals with ungulates, in particular red deer and other cervids. He has recently published a book on Species Concepts in Biology and has a strong interest in the impact of taxonomic concepts and practice on conservation biology, which will also be a topic of the seminar lecture.



[Host: Paulo Célio Alves, Conservation Genetics and Wildlife Management]


Image credits: Frank E. Zachos


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