Holotype fragment (botany)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jan 13 08:42:00 CST 2006

Thanks for the response, Paul.

> The point we were discussing is that in botany one individual may become
> several different specimens and therefore several different
> types, and that
> this is mandatory if gatherings are made at different times. As I
> understand
> it from you, in zoology one individual means one type, no matter what.

Technically no, because the Code still allows for historical syntypes
(multiple individuals) for existing names, though new names must be anchored
to a single name-bearing type individual. But more to the point -- in
zoology, there is no such thing as an Isotype.  If an individual organism
designated as a name-bearing type is divided into multiple parts, the sum of
those parts collectively represent the type.

> The practical reason for this will be that in botany it will be much more
> common to have an individual that remains in a fixed place for a
> long while:
> this allows different gatherings to be made at different times. It is much
> less tempting to do this with animals: i.e. releasing them (minus the
> collected parts) and then recatching them (to collect parts that could not
> be collected the first time) .

I agree that is a difference, but don't I see that as the main practical
difference.  In zoology, the individual is the type, regardless of how much
of it is removed and preserved in a museum, or when. Ported to botany, the
individual tree would be the type, as would all parts removed from that tree
(whether all at once or at different times), as well as all parts left on
the tree to grow, die, etc.

So, it's not really an issue that different parts can be taken at different
times.  I think the main practical difference is more generally that multple
parts are taken at all (regardless of whether it's the same time, or at
different times) and preserved as different museum specimens, and split up
to be stored at different herbaria.

This, by itself, doesn't really impose any practical barriers to the
treatment of the collective set of parts (i.e., the whole individual) as the
name-bearing type, other than the increased potential risk that multiple
parts *believed* to have been obtained from the same individual, might
actually have not been (less likely if all parts are stored together in one
place, or at least one Museum collection, as they almost always are for
name-bearing zoological types).

The biological difference, as discussed previously, is the ambiguity of
identifying the "individual" -- which involves subjectivity in certain
examples both in zoology and in botany, but evidently much moreso in botany.

My thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my query -- this has
been very helpful in understanding why there are differences between the
Codes in how a name-bearing type is defined.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences
  and Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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