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What Makes a Panther a Panther?

Genetics, Human Perceptions, and the Complexity of Species Categorization

Catherine Macdonald and Julia Wester

Species categorizations can involve both scientific input and conservation questions about what should be preserved and how. We present a case study exploring the social construction of species categories using a real-life example of a cougar subspecies (Puma concolor stanleyana) purposefully introduced into Florida to prevent the functional extinction of a related subspecies of panther (P. c. coryi). Participants in an online sample (n = 500) were asked to make categorization decisions and then reflect on those decisions in an open format. Analysis of coded responses suggest people may experience “species” as both a social and biological construct, and that the question of what species people think an animal belongs to cannot be answered in isolation from questions about how that animal fits into larger social and biological systems.

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Catherine Byron, Adrian Caesar, Philip Callow, Barry Cole, George Dandoulakis, Angela Leighton, Clare MacDonald Shaw, John Mole, Tom Paulin, Peter Porter, Philip Ramp, Arnold Rattenbury, Maurice Rutherford, William Scammell, Matt Simpson, Mahendra Solanki, Anne Stevenson, Tim Thorne, John Tranter, Dimitris Tsaloumas, Gael Turnbull and Hugh Underhill

St Thomas Aquinas in MacNeice’s House, September 23rd, 1957

In an Australian Garden

Red Wine and Yellow Sun

For a Cornet Player, Retired

The Altar of the Motherland (trans.: Andreas Kalvos)

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The Puppy of Heaven

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Self Improvement

Taking the Hexameter a Walk – a letter to John Lucas

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A Ballad for Apothecaries, Being a Poem to Honour the Memory of Nicholas Culpeper, Gent …

The Aisles

Sails

Aegina

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