MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: Is sex considered as a discontinuous variation, yes or no? and why?

Date: Mon Sep 5 10:24:15 2005
Posted By: Michael S. Robeson II, PhD Student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dept.
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 1124380001.Ge

I think the reason you are having trouble with the answers given to you previously is the observation that you may not understand the terminology. That is the question: "Is sex considered as a discontinuous variation.." has no biological meaning. You are talking about two very different concepts: 1) Sex (asexual and sexual) 2) Types of variation (continuous and discontinuous) We can only answer questions to expectations if one is straight forward in what is being asked asked. Sex is a property of a given species. That is (in most biological examples) you reproduce sexually (i.e. produce sperm and ova) or you reproduce asexually (no sperm or ova). So, if your question is referring to whether or not the variety of reproductive strategies between species is of a particular varied type (i.e. continuous or discontinuous) then you can say that an organism is either sexual or asexually reproducing. There is no gradation in between. When discussing discontinuous and continuous variation, those terms only apply to populations of individuals within a species. That is 'height' in many species is continuous meaning you can produce a bell shaped curve of all sizes. For example: you can have all possible sizes in between 1 cm to 30 cm when fully grown. In other species (mostly plants) 'height' can be discontinuous, that is you are either tall (say 30 cm) or short (15 cm) when fully grown. On the other hand if you are talking about whether or not certain traits (those traits that attract mates) within a population can vary continuously or discontinuously then you MUST define the organism and the trait in question before being able to answer that question. Some sex traits can vary continuously or discontinuously. Basically, the terms 'continuous' and 'discontinuous' only have meaning when discussing a particular trait or traits that exist within a population. Thus, like I said above, your specific question: "Is sex considered as a discontinuous variation.." has no biological meaning. Thus being male or female is not a “trait” that varies. However, you can ask questions like: "Is the height of males in species 'X' continuous?" OR "How do females of species "Y" vary in their fecundity?" That is you CAN ask questions about whether or not sexual traits of a particular sex vary in a continuous or discontinuous fashion but you usually cannot compare “sexual characteristics” across the sexes unless the trait under question varies in a similar fashion between them. I hope this helps. If it does not help please be more clear in your question next time, perhaps provide and example of the problem you are addressing. This will allow us to more clearly answer your questions. As you've noticed I basically guessed (by answering a variety of ways) as to what you where REALLY asking. Below are some helpful links: Site_1 variationandinheritance/2variationandmutationrev3.shtml Site_2 genes/varn.html -Good Luck!

Current Queue | Current Queue for Genetics | Genetics archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Genetics.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2005. All rights reserved.