Holotype selection criteria

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Dec 2 15:54:20 CST 2004

One problem is that, when you discover the new species, you often have access to
only a limited amount of material.  Thus, the holotype may come from an
"atypical" population.

When selecting the holotype, I would recommend selecting a specimen that seems
to be representative of the specimens on hand. I know of no single criterion by
which one should decide that specimen A will be the holotype and specimens B-D
will be isotypes.


Fabio Moretzsohn wrote:

> I have to admit that the message I sent yesterday about holotype selection
> made me sound completely clueless. Despite contrary evidence from that
> message, I am familiar with the taxonomic practice. And I believe that the
> holotype should be a typical specimen, close as possible to the average of
> the range of variation of the species, and not an extreme .
> What prompted me to write the ill-drafted posting was a quote from Winston
> (1999: 173): "A type-specimen may or may not be typical of the species; the
> important point is that it provides a fixed reference for the use of the
> name (Jeffrey, 1989)."
> I think a non-typical type is a poor selection, so I tried to come up with
> some criteria that might be used to select such a type, and I wanted to know
> how some of you might defend that point of view.
> Fabio
> -----------------
> Winston, J.E. 1999. Describing Species. Practical Taxonomic Procedure for
> Biologists. Columbia University Press, New York

Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen

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