also be incorrectly recognized as different species. Also, although separated by reproductive barriersgenetically,
are not easily distinguishable based on morphology or anatomy (Mishler andDonoghue, 1982). When a barrier to reproduction occurs relatively recently, morphological differenceswill not have set in yet, although species are not able to cross the barrier. These
,morphologically similar yet reproductively isolated,
are still considered as the same species (Mayr, 1996).Furthermore, plant species that differ radically in terms of morphology can produce viable hybrids thatare genetically complex (Tucker, 1953; Clausen et al., 1940), and this again challenges the validity of theMSC.Phylogenetic systematics has also led to biologists turning away from the MSC as it does not trackhistorical relationships (Baum and Donoghue, 1995). Hence, despite the wide use of the MSC today, it isgenerally recognised that it is not a good candidate for a species concept for plants, and many otherorganisms.
Ecological Species Concept
Van Valen (1976) introduced the Ecological Species Concept (ESC) based on the observation that despitemany existing hybrids of oak (genus
), individual species are able to maintain their integrity intheir respective habitats. The ESC
describes a species as ‘a lineage which occupies an adaptive zone
minimally different from that of any other lineage in its range, and which evolves separately from otherlineages outsi
de its range’ (Van Valen, 1976), emphasizing the close relationship between ecological
factors and genetic differences. This concept has received criticism
, since ‘adaptive zones’ and ‘range’
are not easy to identify in nature, and this is even truer for plants (de Queiroz, 2007).
Phylogenetic Species Concept
The Phylogenetic Species Concept (PSC)
defines species as ‘an irreducible cluster of organi
sms,diagnosably distinct from other such clusters, and within which there is parental pattern of ancestry anddescent
(Cracraft, 1983). This concept tracks evolutionary and historical relationships as well aspatterns of divergence (Davis and Manos, 1991), and these are not covered by the other speciesconcepts aforementioned. It also does not depend on specific kinds of biological processes, and hencecan be broadly applied to all organisms.However, it is difficult to define
a ‘diagnosable cluster’
, and it has been argued that different datasources will frequently lead to conflicting phylogenetic results (Wendel and Doyle, 1998). Also, Agapowet al. (2004) estimated that using the PSC leads to a 49% higher number of species, as compared to non-phylogenetic species concept, because it focuses on every discernible difference between organisms,even down to single molecular markers (Davis and Mannos, 1991). PSC will partition organisms into toomany separate biological entities which may become meaningless in the evolutionary sense. A case inpoint is the application of this concept to members of the species
Using the PSC,broccoli, Brussels sprout and cabbage will be unwarrantedly classified as different species (Niklas, 1997).