TAXACOM Digest - 31 Dec 1996 to 1 Jan 1997

Thu Jan 2 05:43:15 CST 1997

Concerning Curtis Clark's suggestion to select a neotype such as
to tie the name intentionally to an older name, I suggest caution,
although I have done a similar thing myself. If a potential
lectotype should turn up, or someone decides that the neotype
you selected is invalid because it does not agree entirely with
the protologue, your neotype could be overturned, causing more
confusion. I have not seen the protologue in question, but if
it is fairly detailed it might be difficult to find another
species that matches precisely.
   The similar case I dealt with last year involved a name
based on the description of a live vegetative specimen growing
in a botanical garden. As no flowering characters were included,
the description was entirely consistent with three different species
in the same genus. Let's call them A, B, and C. A certain author
in one publication accepted the name for Species A, but years
later decided that because another author had applied the name
to Species B, the name should be declared a nomen ambiguum. He
then coined a new name for Species A. As soon as I read this,
I realized that someone could simply take any specimen of Species
A and declare it neotype, thus reviving the name and rendering
this author's new name a junior synonym. Rather than do that,
I took the previously declared lectotype of Species B and made
it neotype of this ambiguous name.
   This move made the name a junior synonym of Species B.
Unfortunately, shortly after I did this I received a letter
advising me that a perusal of the field notes made by the
gentleman who sent the cuttings to the botanical garden where
the vegetative specimen was cultivated probably collected the
cutting from the territory occupied by Species C. Bummer.
But I reread the ICBN and realized that my neotypification
had to stand because there was nothing in the published
protologue indicating this.
   So, I urge caution.

Joseph E. Laferriere
Tucson, Arizona, USA
JosephL at

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