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Recent popular threads have got me thinking...

What is a morph? Don't all morphs of a species (i.e. auratus) share a common ancestor(s)? Or even further back, don't all dendrobates share a common ancestor(s)?

How do we say "this is a morph and this is just a frog with a slight variation to the 'norm'"? Should we seperate orange and yellow leucs?

Is nature our guide (i.e. a morph is set of frogs in a region with similar physical characteristics)?

*I do not condone or practice "morph mixing" and will not ever. I just want to know nail down some definitions.
 

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Pastorjosh,
The question: "Don't all morphs of a species share a common ancestor?" kind of depends on how far back you want to go...
All morphs do share a common ancestor if you go back in tme far enough. Further back, all dendrobates should share a common, dendrobates-like ancestor.
Your next question, "how do we say this is a morph.....?"
We able to say this based on behavior/morphology usually. While this is an relatively less accurate way of doing stuff it is the way it has been done for the most part. The best way, IMHO, is using genetics. If we cannot genetically distinguish the two morphs from eachother then they are just that: morphs. Otherwise, we need to reconsider our calling them morphs. Note, however, this is highly dependant on the gene chosen, etc.

Next question: "Is nature our guide?"
I believe this is how they have defined morph for the purposes of the hobby, however, hopefully someone w/ a little more insight will answer this properly.
I hope this helps,
Ben
 

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-----All of these replies are based on phylogenetic theory, which most systematists (taxonomists) utilize in their work current day.

"What is a morph? Don't all morphs of a species (i.e. auratus) share a common ancestor(s)?"

A "morph" is a form or structure that is phenotypically expressed in an organism (i.e. what something looks like). All morphs of a species most definitely share a common ancestor because they sit within the same taxonomic group (species). All dendrobatids share a common ancestor as well.


"How do we say "this is a morph and this is just a frog with a slight variation to the 'norm'"? Should we seperate orange and yellow leucs?"

Typically, when a human notices something different about one individual of a species when compared to others of the same population, he or she likes to characterize the observed difference. A "morph" might be just a slight variation to the normal expressed phenotype in a population. A morph might also contain genetic or morphological information that has not been documented, which when compared with other individuals of the same species, would allow it to rise to a new species rank. What one does with captive color morphs is up to the individual; hopefully yellow leucs would stay with yellow and orange with orange (personal opinion).


"Is nature our guide (i.e. a morph is set of frogs in a region with similar physical characteristics)?"

Again, morphs are defined by humans. The above rule typically holds true, although the nitty gritty is always a bit more complicated.


Hope I didn't make things unclear; I tried to word my reply with language that was cogent. Take er easy.

Mike
 
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