Genera with many species

Proches MS <> sproches at SUN.AC.ZA
Mon Sep 26 13:19:11 CDT 2005

There are also a couple of large weevil genera. Well over 1000 species
have been described in Otiorhynchus, but there are parthenogenetic
lineages in there. I'm not sure what proportion of the so-called species
they represent.

Which brings up the point: why do we have such monster genera?
A) There are indeed morphological features which stay constant through
evolution (perhaps because they are very advantageous). These make a
group of organisms unusually homogeneous, and this group can,
justifiably, be called a genus.

B) Hydridization or alternative genetic systems create taxononomic
nightmares, trees become too top-heavy, or turn reticular. So splitters
become shy or inefficient, and lumpers' approach is a lot better

Serban Proches
Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
Behalf Of Pieter Pelser
Sent: 26 September 2005 12:14
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Genera with many species

I counted about 4500 binomials for Senecio (Asteraceae).


Dr. Pieter B. Pelser

Miami University - Botany Department
316 Pearson Hall
Oxford, Ohio 45056

Nationaal Herbarium Nederland
Einsteinweg 2
P.O.Box 9514
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands

Email: pelserpb at
IChat: pelser at
Tel.: +15135294270
Fax: +15135294243

On Sep 26, 2005, at 10:16 AM, Paul Kirk wrote:

> The fungus (lichen) genus Lecidea has over 4300 (valid [bot.]/
> available[zool.]) binomials but a proportion of these have been moved 
> to taxonomically correct (bot.)/valid (zool.) genera.
> Paul
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of veldkamp
> Sent: 26 September 2005 09:01
> Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Genera with many species
> A quick check with IPNI suggests that Rubus is the largest with 8475 
> hits. Note that quite a few of these will be double ones, but this 
> goes for other
> names as well.
> JeF
> At 09:44 AM 9/26/2005, you wrote:
>> Ken kinman wrote:
>> "Isn't the beetle genus Agrilus still the largest genus in Kingdom 
>> Metazoa, with thousands of species?"
>> It may be, but I think that some genera in the plant kingdom are 
>> larger. Euphorbia, Dendrobium, Bulbophyllum and Pleurothallis all 
>> have more than
>> 1000 spp., Euphorbia perhaps more than 2000. But most large genera
>> are
>> subject to taxonomist-erosion; marginal subgroups are gnawed off and
>> given separate names all the time (leaving skeletal paraphyletic
>> left-over groups behind). So the real interesting question may rather
>> be: which generic name has the largest number of validly published
>> binomials?
>> Finn Rasmussen, Copenhagen

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