Lectotype designations

David Rider David_Rider at NDSU.NODAK.EDU
Mon Jan 29 08:44:22 CST 2001

Dear All,

         I must respectfully disagree with Dr. Pulawski's opinion.  I am
currently working on a catalog of the Pentatomidae of the World; as part of
that project, I am trying to provide as much information about the type
specimens for each species.  Dr. Pulawski is correct in that the new rule
will not stop a curator from publishing a paper on the types of so and so
museum and designating lectotypes.  What it will stop, however, is
inadvertant lectotype designations.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, it
was very common in the past for curators to add various type labels to type
specimens in their museum.  Most of these should be regarded as syntype
series, but these curators often added type, or even holotype labels to one
of the specimens without their being any publication associated with these
designations.  What then happens (very commonly I must add) is that
subsequent workers do not take the time to check what the true status of
the types are, and in a publication (revision or other) refer to that one
specimen as the type.  According to the old code, these subsequent
references can be considered lectotype designations.  Most of the time, it
is obvious that the author did not intend to make a lectotype designation
(they may have made other lectotype designations elsewhere in the paper in
a more correct or obvious way).  As I have said, this is very common; I am
having to deal with quite a few of these cases in my catalog.  The new code
rule eliminates these inadvertent designations.

         Also, from what I have seen, curatorial selection of poor
specimens for lectotypes is much more common than what Dr. Pulawski
indicates.  Besides what is the big deal?  Is it really that big a hassle
to add an official statement of lectotype designation for each one made?  I
have already been doing this before the new rule (I think many/most of us
were also doing this), and I do not find it cumbersome at all.  In the
above examples I have given, I have been trying to determine the intent of
the author in whether I think these inadvertent designations should be
valid.  This is where we can really get into problems trying to determine
someone else's intent (e.g. our most recent presidential election).  The
new rule eliminates this problem.  Now they either do it right or they don't.


At 04:06 PM 1/29/01 +0300, you wrote:
>Dear colleagues,
>         Dr W.Pulawski asked me to forward to you the attached comments on
>the discussion about lectotype designations.
>         Best regards
>         A. Lobanov
>         www.zin.ru/Animalia/Coleoptera/eng/lobanov.htm
>Dear Colleague:
>As you well know, the Fourth Edition of the International Code of
>Zoological Nomenclature has been in
>power since 1 January 2000.  It includes a number of  novelties, one of
>which, in my opinion, is unfortunate
>and should be repealed as soon as possible (Article 74.7.3).  The
>reasons for my opinion are given in my
>letter to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature of 21
>November 2000 (copy attached).
>An individual voice, however, is likely to generate no more than a
>polite answer with no consequences
>("your letter is deserving attention", "I share your view, but cannot
>change the Code representing a
>collective opinion", etc.).  Therefore, I would greatly appreciate it,
>if you join me in protesting this
>innovation and to send a supporting letter to the Commission.  You are
>welcomed to use my letter as a
>template, with necessary modifications.
>Wojciech J. Pulawski
>21 November 2000
>P.K. Tubbs, Secretary
>International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
>c/o Museum of Natural History, Cromwell Road
>London SW7 5BD,
>Great Britain
>Dear Commission:
>As a practicing taxonomist with some 40 years of experience, I feel
>obliged to protest against the
>Article 74.7.3 that first appeared in the Fourth Edition of the Code.
>It requires that "to be valid, a lectotype
>designation made after 1999 must contain an express statement of the
>taxonomic purpose of the
>In my view, this Article is objectionable and unnecessary for two
>1.      It requires a justification of the obvious. It is true that there are
>some rare cases of failure in
>lectotype  designation (e.g., specimens unsuitable for identification
>purposes are designated when
>better specimens are present; or a lectotype is selected from a mixed
>series, changing the
>established species concept or resulting in other negative nomenclatural
>impact).  Unfortunately,
>we have no protection mechanism against unqualified work, and the formal
>statement required by
>the new Code adds nothing to the quality of lectotype designation. There
>is no need to justify in
>words the usual process of typification, the importance of which is
>clearly stated in the Code
>(Article 61.1).  It is also inconsistent  to require a statement of the
>lectotype designation, whether
>no similar requirement is expected for the holotype designation.
>2.      Since every designation of a lectotype has to be individual (Article
>74.3), it requires multiple
>repetitions when more than one lectotype is being designated in a
>paper.  For example, I am
>preparing a large paper on Tachysphex wasps in which some 40 lectotypes
>are designated.  Article
>74.7.3 forces me to repeat 40 times the formula "here  designated in
>order to ensure the name's
>proper and consistent application".  I find it to be ridiculous.
>I would strongly recommend that this ill-conceived innovation to the
>Code be removed at your earliest
>Sincerely yours,
>Wojciech J. Pulawski
>Department of Entomology
>California Academy of Sciences
>Some comments received after submission of the above letter are worth
>1.      "The Code says nowhere that the lectotypes should be designated by a
>specialist, nor does it prevent
>designations made for the sole purpose of increasing the number of
>lectotypes in an institution or
>personal collection.  Consequently, lectotype designations made by a
>non-specialist with a statement
>like "here designated in order to have as many primary types in this
>collection as possible and thus to
>facilitate the taxonomic work of specialists working here" will be in
>agreement with the Code, even if
>the sex of the lectotype and the label information are not provided
>(these are only recommended,
>Recommendation 74C)."
>2.      F. Cherot and O.S.G. Pauwels  designated 23 lectotypes in their
>2000. Les specimens-types de Miridae (Insecta: Heteroptera) des
>collections du Musee Royal de
>l'Afrique centrale (Tervuren, Belgique).  Musee Royal de l'Afrique
>Centrale Tervuren, Belgique.
>Documentation Zoologique  24:1-23
>which is a list of types, not a taxonomic revision.  For each
>designation they used a statement "Afin de
>lever tous risques d'ambiguite concernant le taxon nominal du niveau
>espece defini par ostension
>comme [name, author, date], nous en avons selectionne le lectotype".
>If the intention of Article 74.7.3 was to prevent lectotype designations
>as a curatorial practice, then it
>failed badly, only resulting in lengthy repetitions.
>3.      The prescribed formula has not been used (only "here designated" or
>an equivalent) in a number of
>recent papers that appeared in prestigious journals.  Five  random
>examples include:
>Caldara, R. 2000. Revisione dei Pachytychius delle regioni Afrotropicale
>e Orientale (Coleoptera
>Curculionidae). Memorie della Societa Entomologica Italiana 78:31-166 (8
>lectotypes designated).
>Huber, B.  2000.  New World pholcid spiders Araneae: Pholcidae): a
>revision at generic level.  Bulletin
>of the American Museum of Natural History  254:1-348.
>Norris, K.R.  2000.  Lectotype designation and description of the
>Tasmanian blowfly Calliphora
>dispar Macquart 1846 (Diptera: Calliphoridae).  Australian Journal of
>Entomology  39:256-258
>(accepted for publication 9 June 2000).
>Puplesis, R. and G.S. Robinson.  2000.  A review of the Central and
>South American Nepticulidae
>(Lepidoptera) with special reference to Belize.  Bulletin of the Natural
>History Museum.
>Entomology Series.  69:1-114.
>van Tol, J.  2000.  The Odonata of Sulawesi and adjacent Islands.  Part
>5.  The genus Protosticta Selys
>(Platystictidae).  Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 143:221-266.
>According to Article 74.7.3, lectotype designations in these papers are
>invalid, but rejecting them
>would not help taxonomy. Rather, the Article should be rejected.
>Wojciech J. Pulawski <wpulawski at calacademy.org>
>  Department of Entomology
>  California Academy of Sciences

David A. Rider
Department of Entomology
Hultz Hall, Box 5346
University Station
North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota 58105
(701) 231-7902
David_Rider at ndsu.nodak.edu

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