[Taxacom] New species descriptions based on only 1 specimen

Jean-Michel Maes jmmaes at ibw.com.ni
Tue Sep 30 17:47:39 CDT 2008


Difficult to answer by yes or no. In theory, it's not a good idea to
describe a species on 1 specimen. But... In the case of a revision, better
to describe the species available, even if there is only one specimen, so
all species are available to play with. Another person can find the way to
rear the species or to collect more and confirm the validity of the species
or put it as a synonym of another species. I know it's not an election, but
my vote would be to describe the species, even on an orphan specimen.



Dr. Jean-Michel MAES
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Geoff Read" <g.read at niwa.co.nz>
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 5:10 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] New species descriptions based on only 1 specimen

> >>> On 1/10/2008 at 8:17 a.m., Steve Lingafelter
> <steve.lingafelter at ars.usda.gov>
> wrote:
> > Hi Taxacomers,
> > I realize this is a tired debate, but nevertheless...
> >
> > I'm interested in some current opinions.  I am at the final stages of
> data
> > collection for a field guide to Dominican Republic
> Cerambycidae...however,
> > I've got a handful of very charismatic new species which are sadly,
> after 10
> > expeditions (4 by our group; several by Carnegie Museum and
> Harvard),
> > represented by only 1 specimen each.
> >
> > I want to describe them and have them available for the field guide
> but I
> > realize this is not an ideal situation (and I believe not accepted by
> some
> > journals).  Am I making a mountain out of a mole-hill, and should I
> just
> > describe the darned things?
> >
> > What would you do?
> No, it's certainly not mountain out of mole-hill. It's a serious issue.
> I wouldn't never do it, but best avoided in annelids, the group I work
> with, because of meristic and developmental changes, and also noting the
> difficulty of borrowing a holotype with no paratype. Also there is the
> possibility a strange individual is a teratology and not new at all.
> Incomplete tail-less specimens are a particular problem for later
> workers when described - as has been done frequently, but against that
> there are families in which complete individuals from offshore benthos
> are almost never collected - can't just ignore a whole family.
> Here's a paper discussing species description standards which inter
> alia addresses the single specimen problem:
> Mąkol, J. ; Gabryś, G. 2005:  Intuition or fixed criteria – about
> standards in species description.  Genus 16(4): 503-511.
> http://www.biol.uni.wroc.pl/cassidae/Fixed%20criteria.pdf
> Geoff
> --
>  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>
>    http://www.annelida.net/
>   http://www.niwascience.co.nz/ncabb/
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