Genera with many species

peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Mon Sep 26 07:03:56 CDT 2005

"Short of the death penalty, there will always be lumpers and
splitters" (Davis and Heywood, p. 85).

These things tend to go in cycles, I suppose, but so long as one
remembers that such matters have little, if anything to do with
science.  Unecessary (definition not offered here) lumping/splitting
simply confuses, as Thomas P.'s example suggests (but of course the
name "yellow fever mosquito" has not changed....)


>  > ... most large genera are subject to taxonomist-erosion;
>>  marginal subgroups are gnawed off and given separate names all the time
>So, maybe the real interesting question is not exactly how many species,
>With genera being defined through a strange mixture of strictly
>scientific (monophyly) and mainly psychological
>('user-friendlyness') criteria, how do we approach the
>"taxonomist-erosion" Finn alludes to?
>Should we call the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti [482,000 hits
>in Google] or Stegomyia aegypti [12,300 hits in Google]?
>This matters not only for general communication and information
>retrieval but even for (zoological) nomenclature through issues of
>secondary homonymy and gender agreement.
>Thomas Pape
>The Natural History Museum of Denmark

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