Deposit of type material

Fri Aug 11 15:44:28 CDT 1995

Systematists should deposit holotypes in the collections of
institutions that have a continuous history of employing
systematists.  Paratypes should be distributed widely to
institutions that are able to provide catalogue numbers in
exchange.  If an institution can't provide catalogue numbers,
don't send it any more paratypes, it probably doesn't have the
staff to maintain its collections.

Perhaps we can encourage institutions to hire more systematists
by depositing paratypes and authoritatively identified material
with them, but generally, it works the opposite way.  Collections
without support staff and active research don't get many visitors
or requests for loans, and generally are not thought of when a
researcher is distributing material.  Collections build up around
systematists, wherever they are.  Institutions in any country
that want to build collections should hire systematists,
encourage them to publish and send them to international
meetings.  Within a generation, from efforts of their staff and
from exchange of material with colleagues, they will have
substantial collections; in two generations they could join the
ranks of institutions with a continuous history for employing

Of course, it's not quite that simple.  For real continuity, you
need a series of systematists in the same discipline.  My
institution, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, has
had one or more malacologists on staff continuously since the
early 1800's; as a result we have one of the world's largest
collections of mollusks, and researchers send us lots of type
material.  Our collection of crustaceans is just as old, but not
nearly as large, because we have not had continuity in that
field.  Our crustacean collection is not growing, few types are
deposited, and loan requests are filled by the collection manager
for the mollusk collection.

Gary Rosenberg
rosenberg at

"The careful preservation of types therefore, and the interchange
of specimens named from types, is of the first importance to save
the time and ensure the accuracy of succeeding writers.  The
Smithsonian Institution has fully recognized this principle by
directing that the first available duplicate of all type species
described from its collections shall be deposited in some museum
open to students on the other side of the Atlantic."
                              --Carpenter 1863 (pp. 339-340)

Carpenter, P. P. 1863.  Review of Prof. C. B. Adams's 'Catalogue
of the shells of Panama', from the type specimens.  Proceedings
of the Zoological Society of London, pp. 339-369.

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