Morpho-typing

Una Smith una at DOLIOLUM.BIOLOGY.YALE.EDU
Tue May 20 20:37:29 CDT 1997


"Stuart G. Poss" <sgposs at whale.st.usm.edu> wrote:

> Irrespective of when or how in a sampling protocol the specimens are
> identified, a critical issue in subsequent reference to the specimens
> is the accuracy of the identification.

In order to identify a specimen as belonging to a formal species, that
species must have been described.  Morpho-typing is an essential part
of taxonomy;  once the taxonomy has been done, there is little left to
do but identify additional specimens and keep checklists.

> If the "morphotypes" are correctly labeled and vouchered, they can at
> some point be made useful to the scientific community

If there is no adequate voucher specimen, there can be no morpho-type.

>                                                       by correctly
> referencing the appropriate species name, ...

What if there is no appropriate species name?  Don't some estimates of
global biodiversity indicate that only a small fraction of all species
have been described?  And what of the many inadequate, utterly useless
descriptions that are part of the formal taxonomic record?  I'd rather
use a morphotype than muddy the taxonomy even further by assigning new
specimens to bad species.

        Una Smith




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