Holotype fragment (botany)

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Jan 12 12:23:23 CST 2006

Richard Pyle wrote:

> Keeping in mind the shared goal of all Codes of nomenclature to maximize
> objectivity and minimize ambiguity in anchoring names to the biological
> world, my questions to botanists are:
> 1) Do you see any logical advantages to the way it is done in botany
> (defining the name-bearing type in the context of Museum specimens, rather
> than genetically coherent individual organisms or colonies);

Well...the first problem is that of knowing precisely what is meant by
"genetically coherent individual organisms or colonies"
A museum specimen (for many plants, a complete individual)  is generally
unambiguous: it constitutes the entire organism or a component (of the
individual; e.g., a branch with leaves and flowers, or a branch with fruits, or
simply a branch)  that reflects the diagnostic characters on which the name is
based.  Could a mammalian name be based solely on the left hind foot of the
animal?  Could an insect name be based on just the thorax?  Could a tapeworm
name be based on a single segment?

> 2) Is there any biological or practical reason why botanical types and
> zoological types should be defined differently? Or, is the difference simply
> one of tradition?

Given that plants and animals are so fundamentally different (in general), I
think the answer is yes.  The trees I work with produce literally thousands of
duplicate structures any one of which may be sufficient for identifying the
species to which the individual is assigned.  Collecting the entire "genetically
coherent" individual is not logical or practical.

Dick J

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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