[Taxacom] Centropyge (was: barcode of life)

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Jul 5 01:40:10 CDT 2010

>        I disagree with you both.  I believe that it would be 
> best to recognize two subspecies of one widespread species in 
> this case:
> Centropyge flavissima flavissima and Centropyge flavissima vroliki.
> This is more informative than leaving them separate species.  
> And it would have the added benefit that in databases like 
> NCBI, they would be
> alphabetically together.

In principle, that seems like a good compromise (believe me -- I
contemplated it at great length!)  However, as I said, if I synonomized the
two species (even if I were to recognize them as distinct subspecies), I
very seriously doubt that any taxonomist would follow suit.  Indeed, if
someone else were to do it, *I* would be reluctant to follow suit.  And
among coral-reef ichthyologists (who generally don't play much with
subspecies, as you noted), I am a relatively strong advocate for more
widespread use of trinomials in cases where it makes sense to do so.  I'm
just not sure this is a case where it makes sense to do so (I can think of
much better examples).

Maybe Tony Gill (who commented on another thread recently on Taxacom, based
on a paper he co-authored), can chime in on his thoughts concerning the use
of subspecies for coral-reef fishes.

To wit:
Gill, Anthony C. 1999. Subspecies, geographic forms and widespread
Indo-Pacific coral-reef fish species: a call for change in taxonomic
practice. Proc. of 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, 1997, (1999): 79-87.


P.S. I think you're over-reaching a bit to suggest that it's inappropriate
to use color as a primary character distinction in general, based on one
mammal example.

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