[Taxacom] A romp through an aggregator

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Tue May 25 03:58:50 CDT 2010

Last year, in a paper published in ZooKeys, I made Atopogonus Carl, 1926 a junior subjective synonym of Agathodesmus Silvestri, 1910. The genus sits in Haplodesmidae, a family of Polydesmida, which is an order of millipedes. There are 4 species - 2 described in Atopogonus, 2 described in Agathodesmus.

To my great surprise, EOL tells me that I missed a species: Atopogonus graueri Attems, 1927 (http://www.eol.org/pages/10941510), which is classified in EOL as Polydesmida: Haplodesmidae.

Well, actually, I didn't miss it. Atopogonus graueri is the type species of Atopogonus Attems, 1927, which Kraus in 1966 replaced with Atopogestus because Atopogonus was preoccupied. A. graueri is in a different millipede order, Spirostreptida. You can find both genera in Nomenclator Zoologicus, and the replacement has been noted in both of the principal Diplopoda checklists: a generic Nomenclator published by Jeekel in 1971, and a class-wide classification published by Hoffman in 1980.

EOL also has a page for Atopogonus baccatus Carl, 1926: http://www.eol.org/pages/128930 , so it looks like the new combination I published in ZooKeys didn't catch on. Interestingly, 2 other of my 2009 species did. If you search EOL for Agathodesmus, you'll find A. steeli and A. johnsi listed. The first is separately listed as both Dalodesmidae and Haplodesmidae (2 completely different families), and the second, a new species I published in Haplodesmidae, is listed as Dalodesmidae, with the note 'Taxon recognized by ZooKeys'.

This is simply a mess. I believe that EOL picked up the A. graueri mistake from COL, which got it from the SysMyr myriapod database (http://www.gbifev2.mwn.de/GloMyrIS/GloMyrIS_details.php?val_taxon=2046386). I have no idea why my taxonomic update in ZooKeys didn't get integrated into EOL.

On the other hand, if you type 'Atopogonus' into the Wikispecies search box, you get directed to the Agathodesmus page, where my 4 2009 species sit in Haplodesmidae, together with a citation for my paper and other info. Thank you, Stephen Thorpe.

An aggregator does its clients and taxonomy in general a huge disservice by spreading confusion and misinformation. And no, I am not going to offer to curate EOL or any other aggregator to help them with 'data quality', or expand their content. Instead, I'm going to continue to build and support bottom-up resources and hope that people use them.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
03 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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