[Taxacom] Call for proxy votes for the forthcoming International Botanical Congress

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Thu Jul 7 13:02:03 CDT 2011

Kim van der Linde wrote:
> And this is not that hypothetical. Consider the genus Drosophila,
> which is a royal mess. Revision is impossible because the type is
> on a different clade than melanogaster and consorten. The ICZN has
> ruled that the name should be changed.

Acacia is comparable to the situation in Drosophila only in that
there is a type in a group that some people don't like.  In Acacia,
the two clades involved are massively different in size and that's
the main argument for changing.  In Drosophila, it's purely an
emotional/usage argument for changing the type, and would in fact
lead to *more* species changing names.  If you wanted to preserve
the greatest number of species, the type of Drosophila should
actually be moved into the Hawaiian Drosophila, which have at least
600 species, compared to ~350 in Sophophora.

BTW, one thing I haven't seen discussed (here; I don't know what
went on at Vienna) is the relative contribution of each group.  The
African group, after all, are the ones that have the common name of
acacia from which the scientific name is derived.

> I know, taxonomically there is not a problem and it can be revised.
> if we live in ivory tower. Acceptance by non-taxonomists is an
> issue. Idiomyia was such an example of a far less important group
> (the Hawaiian drosophilids) for which revision was tried and
> rejected. Only a minority accepts it despite that its sister clade,
> the genus Scaptomyza has been accepted widely.

Scaptomyza wasn't split off, it's morphologically very distinct
everywhere except Hawaii and was often thought to be relatively
unrelated to Drosophila.  Also, if you think there are good enough
characters for the major clades, you're welcome to define subgenera
within Drosophila which will be wholly uncontroversial.

Karl Magnacca
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Hawaii-Hilo

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