What is a Species/Speciation?
Theodosius Dobzhansky, a prominent evolutionary biologist, wrote "biological classification is simultaneously a man-made system of pigeonholes devised for the pragmatic purpose of recording observations in a convenient manner and an acknowledgment of the fact of organic discontinuity." What does it mean to be a species? How do we define a species and are they even real? How does speciation work? This course will consist of two parts: We will survey definitions of "species" (there are over 20), we will produce our own definition, and we will discuss how speciation works ? when it starts, when it ends, what is required. Additionally, we will explore first-hand how variation of a particularly difficult natural system ? fritillary butterflies ? relates to species delineations in this group. Students will read and discuss primary literature, synthesize ideas and data in writing, and develop research projects addressing the species-status of butterflies. A laptop computer in good working condition is highly recommended for this class.