The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of Species

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The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of Species  (1930) 
by Alfred Charles Kinsey
Vol. XVI June, September, December, 1929

Indiana University

Indiana University Seal 1920.png

Studies Nos. 84, 85, 86
A Study in the Origin of Species

By Alfred C. Kinsey, Professor of Zoölogy and Waterman Research Associate, Indiana University

For Sale by the University Bookstore, Bloomington, Ind. Price, $2.50

The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips, Figs 1-5.jpg

An eastern American species, Cynips (Acraspis) erinacei. Figures 1, 2, 5 = bisexual form ; 3, 4 = agamic form.

Studies Nos. 84, 85, 86

The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips

A Study in the Origin of Species

By Alfred C. Kinsey, Professor of Zoölogy and Waterman Research Associate, Indiana University

Waterman Institute for Scientific Research Publication No. 42;

Contribution from the Department of Zoology, Indiana University, No. 220 (Entomological Series No. 7)

Actual date of publication, February 27, 1930


This investigation was undertaken with the conviction that an intensive study of any group of species should contribute to the elucidation of biologic problems of general concern. Ninety-three species represented by more than 17,000 insects and 54,000 galls have been available for this analysis of the genus Cynips and these have offered an opportunity for studying the nature of species, individual variation, mutation and hybridization in nature, and the factors affecting the origin of species.

Species are defined as populations with common heredity. The thesis is maintained that species, in this sense, are more than mental concepts—that species are realities which preserve a morphologic and physiologic identity under varying conditions, over vast areas, and thru periods of time that may extend beyond the present geologic epoch. Within these populations individuals are found to vary, mutations to occur, and Mendelian races to develop as they are observed to develop in the laboratory. It appears that in Cynips, at least, these mutations have been the chief source of new species, but only when they are isolated from close relatives with which they might have interbred. Altho hybrid individuals prove common, and local colonies which have arisen by hybridization between related species are not unknown, the isolation of such hybrid populations to form species seems to have occurred in only a few instances in this genus.

The data on which these conclusions are based constitute a taxonomic revision of the genus Cynips. The group as redefined is a homogeneous unit delimited by insect morphology, gall characters, host relationships, life histories, and geographic distribution. Published records are coördinated with a large body of new data on these several aspects of the group. Of the 93 species placed in this genus, 45 have previously been described (only 26 of which have heretofore been recognized in Cynips) and 48 are new to science. To the 5 instances of alternation of generations which have previously been published for the group, 6 additional cases are added.

It should be of some moment to correlate these conclusions, concerning the nature and the origin of the species of Cynips, with the studies that have been made or remain to be made on the evolution of other groups of organisms.

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The author died in 1956, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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