Use of type specimens]

Stuart G. Poss sgposs at WHALE.ST.USM.EDU
Fri Nov 8 12:30:00 CST 1996


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Don,

        With respect to "animal" species the ICZN currently requires
that a type specimen be fixed and that whatever specimens happen to be
identical (same species) to that represented by the holotype must bear
the name of the holotype.  No other name can be used for this species.
Species not identical to the holotype must bear another name (see ICZN
Articles 72-75).

        If a molecular biologist has good evidence that specific species
analyzed molecularly is in fact identical to that of the type specimen
then he or she is in a position to legitimately claim that there is no
need to examine the holotype to correctly apply a name to this species.
Presumably in nearly all cases this evidence will be morphological in
nature, since the molecular characteristics of type specimens is seldom
established, at least for the moment.  If another investigator has
evidence, or for any reason whatsoever, believes that the molecular
biologist (or anyone else) has erred in his identification,comparison
with the type, either through morphological or molecular means can be
made to determine whether an error has in fact occurred.  In any event,
the name-bering type specimen exits for the purpose of establishing
whether he or she (or anyone else) is correct.  This is the point of
maintaining a reference specimen.  It fixes the name to a single
individual that can at most represent one species (unless its a hybrid,
which creates its own set of special problems and is specificaly
excluded from the code; see ICZN Article 1b).  Most importantly, it adds
potential verifiability (repeatability) to the identification process
and thus places further discussion of issues raised by the
identification into the realm of science.

        Perhaps in this newly emerging age this seimingly pedantic, but
tried and tested means of establishing definitive identification of
specimens will no longer be necessary.  Given new intellectual property
conventions all species names will become part of a database of some
entrepenurial taxonomist/molecular biologist who can charge a fortune
anytime a name from his database is used, and people will stop using
names for organisms simply to save money.  In those cases where someone
might actually want to use a name, such databases would permit the time
consuming task of actually examing specimens to be replaced by
instantaneous examination of database records, perhaps containing only
0's and 1's or A's, T's, C's and G's; thereby alleviating the expense of
troublesome alpha taxonomists who keep on insisting that definitive
means of establishing the identity of species is important to
understanding their biology.  Perhaps in this new age the code can be
altered to require that names or maybe even code numbers must only
conform to someone's cladistic theory regardless of precedence or
combination, or the necessity of designating a type specimen, or
maintaining nomenclatural stability.  Perhaps in this emerging age
collections will become so poorly funded that all type specimens will be
lost for lack of personnel for adequate curation and no university will
provide its students with sufficient training to know what key
characters are nececesary to identify an organism even if they saw one.
Aferall, there seems to be no money in it.  Conviently, then we can be
truely free and call species/specimens by whatever name anyone wants to
use.  Fortunately, it seems as if this will result in fewer and fewer
problems, since in all liklihood it appears this emerging age will have
far fewer species anyway.  Cockroaches at least will find such a future
appealing.  Given that some of my Hox genes are surprisingly similar to
theirs and they are survivors, I'm becoming increasingly optimistic
about tenor of this ongoing debate as we enter this new age.

Stuart Poss

Don Reynolds wrote:
>
> A morphology vs. molecular type question has come up that I find provocative.
> Here is a parsimonious rendition of the question.
>
> The context is taxonomic revision where taxa species are
> merged and synonomy is to be established with critical circumscription.
>
> Morphology based taxonomic revision requires the examination of
>  the type specimen when it is available in my view..
>
> The molecular systematist view posed in recent discussions is that if
> taxonomic revision were made on the basis of sequence analysis, then
> there is no compelling reason to examine the type for the species
>
> Reasons for examination of the type are verification of the material at
> hand, and first hand examination of the data associated with the type
> material.
>
> I recall that the type method was a condition of the merger of European code
> and an American code. Is this designation of a type in association with a
> name necessary, and what compelling reasons are there for the use of type materi
> al in a sequence based revision? (Total data arguments noted).
>
> --
> dreynold at mizar.usc.edu
> Don R. Reynolds                     Telephone 213 744 3232
> Research and Collections            FAX 213 744 3482 or 213 746 2999
> Natural History Museum
> 900 Exposition Boulevard
> Los Angeles, California 90007


--
_____________________________________________________________________
Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at whale.st.usm.edu
Senior Ichthyologist & Curator       Tel: (601)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (601)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000
_____________________________________________________________________

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Message-ID: <328364C0.4194CA0C at whale.st.usm.edu>
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 1996 10:50:08 -0600
From: "Stuart G. Poss" <sgposs at whale.st.usm.edu>
Organization: Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
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MIME-Version: 1.0
To: Don Reynolds <dreynold at BCF.USC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Use of type specimens
References: <199611081611.IAA06928 at mizar.usc.edu>
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Don,

        With respect to "animal" species the ICZN currently requires that a
type specimen be fixed and that whatever specimens happen to be
identical (same species) to that represented by the holotype must bear
the name of the holotype.  No other name can be used for this species.
Species not identical to the holotype must bear another name (see ICZN
Articles 72-75).

        If a molecular biologist has good evidence that specific species
analyzed molecularly is in fact identical to that of the type specimen
then he or she is in a position to legitimately claim that there is no
need to examine the holotype to correctly apply a name to this species.
Presumably in nearly all cases this evidence will be morphological in
nature, since the molecular characteristics of type specimens is seldom
established, at least for the moment.  If another investigator has
evidence, or for any reason whatsoever, believes that the molecular
biologist (or anyone else) has erred in his identification,comparison
with the type, either through morphological or molecular means can be
made to determine whether an error has in fact occurred.  In any event,
the name-bering type specimen exits for the purpose of establishing
whether he or she (or anyone else) is correct.  This is the point of
maintaining a reference specimen.  It fixes the name to a single
individual that can at most represent one species (unless its a hybrid,
which creates its own set of special problems and is specificaly
excluded from the code; see ICZN Article 1b).  Most importantly, it adds
potential verifiability (repeatability) to the identification process
and thus places further discussion of issues raised by the
identification into the realm of science.

        Perhaps in this newly emerging age this seimingly pedantic, but tried
and tested means of establishing definitive identification of specimens
will no longer be necessary.  Given new intellectual property
conventions all species names will become part of a database of some
entrepenurial taxonomist/molecular biologist who can charge a fortune
anytime a name from his database is used, and people will stop using
names for organisms simply to save money.  In those cases where someone
might actually want to use a name, such databases would permit the time
consuming task of actually examing specimens to be replaced by
instantaneous examination of database records, perhaps containing only
0's and 1's or A's, T's, C's and G's; thereby alleviating the expense of
troublesome alpha taxonomists who keep on insisting that definitive
means of establishing the identity of species is important to
understanding their biology.  Perhaps in this new age the code can be
altered to require that names or maybe even code numbers must only
conform to someone's cladistic theory regardless of precedence or
combination, or the necessity of designating a type specimen, or
maintaining nomenclatural stability.  Perhaps in this emerging age
collections will become so poorly funded that all type specimens will be
lost for lack of personnel for adequate curation and no university will
provide its students with sufficient training to know what key
characters are nececesary to identify an organism even if they saw one.
Aferall, there seems to be no money in it.  Conviently, then we can be
truely free and call species/specimens by whatever name anyone wants to
use.  Fortunately, it seems as if this will result in fewer and fewer
problems, since in all liklihood it appears this emerging age will have
far fewer species anyway.  Cockroaches at least will find such a future
appealing.  Given that some of my Hox genes are surprisingly similar to
theirs and they are survivors, I'm becoming increasingly optimistic
about tenor of this ongoing debate as we enter this new age.

Stuart Poss

Don Reynolds wrote:
>
> A morphology vs. molecular type question has come up that I find provocative.
> Here is a parsimonious rendition of the question.
>
> The context is taxonomic revision where taxa species are
> merged and synonomy is to be established with critical circumscription.
>
> Morphology based taxonomic revision requires the examination of
>  the type specimen when it is available in my view..
>
> The molecular systematist view posed in recent discussions is that if
> taxonomic revision were made on the basis of sequence analysis, then
> there is no compelling reason to examine the type for the species
>
> Reasons for examination of the type are verification of the material at
> hand, and first hand examination of the data associated with the type
> material.
>
> I recall that the type method was a condition of the merger of European code
> and an American code. Is this designation of a type in association with a
> name necessary, and what compelling reasons are there for the use of type materi
> al in a sequence based revision? (Total data arguments noted).
>
> --
> dreynold at mizar.usc.edu
> Don R. Reynolds                     Telephone 213 744 3232
> Research and Collections            FAX 213 744 3482 or 213 746 2999
> Natural History Museum
> 900 Exposition Boulevard
> Los Angeles, California 90007

--
_____________________________________________________________________
Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at whale.st.usm.edu
Senior Ichthyologist & Curator       Tel: (601)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (601)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000
_____________________________________________________________________


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