When the views entertained in this volume on the origin of species, or when analogous views are generally admitted, we can dimly foresee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural history. Systematists will be able to pursue their labours as at present; but they will not be incessantly haunted by the shadowy doubt whether this or that form be in essence a species. This I feel sure, and I speak after experience, will be no slight relief. The endless disputes whether or not some fifty species of British brambles are true species will cease.
Charles Darwin, in the Origin of Species, displaying a sadly over-optimistic view of the longevity of argument over species concepts.
(For those of you following me who aren’t biologists or who aren’t speciation specialists: argument about what species concept is “best” and whether X and Y groups of organisms qualify as species, subspecies, or just populations is sufficiently common and nitpicky that when it came up in last week’s lab meeting there were audible groans from most people present. It is still a topic of contentious debate, a hundred and fifty years later.)