[Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa
jshuey at TNC.ORG
Thu Sep 15 15:13:36 CDT 2011
>Burns has had seven years since the first Astraptes paper was
>published, and according to that, these taxa were recognized by
>subtle morphological characters and larval host preferences long
>before. The 2004 paper even declares: "Should the 10 species of A.
>fulgerator identified in this study be formally described despite
>their morphological similarity? Yes." So if they haven't done so
>after this time, when the paper has become cited so often, they've
>somewhat abdicated responsibility. Given that Janzen's group has
>continued to publish high-profile papers like this in PNAS touting
>the diversity of various groups without actually describing the
>species - especially when many of their supposed species fall well
>within the usual range of intraspecific variation - I think it's
>entirely appropriate to give a message like this to either put up or
First it worth noting that this group has been very active in describing new species and the like from data generated by this effort. I pulled this list of pubs (below) together in just a few minutes of online searching. So it's not like there was any reason to believe that work was growing cold. In fact the opposite was the case. Over 4,500 rearing of the "fulgerator group" and about 1,200 barcodes later - the there are 12 (not 10 as described by Brower) lineages that seem to have relatively unique ecologies, larval morphology and of course barcodes (see the first pub below for details for Astraptes and other genera waiting data miners to describe species in). It is hardly that they quit working on the fulgerator group, but that the deeper you dig in, the more complex it becomes. If Brower had bothered to contact anyone familiar with this work (Janzen and Burns were caught unaware by the publication), he would have known that this was still an area on intense research. But of course, had he done that, it would have been painfully obvious to even himself that he had crossed some ethical line in publishing from other's data, and self denial is important to maintaining one's psyche... (albeit data that they naively figured was ok to place in the public domain...).
And not of minor consequence - is that no one knows how exactly available names like "fulgerator" or "azul" fit into the cryptic species or what these species concepts represent. Brower - in cheap and sloppy work, simply ignores the issue and acknowledges that some of the stupid names are stupid synonyms (but who knows when this will get resolved now, given that Brower hasn't really held a dead bug in his hands as part of this work). Burns, being a real taxonomist and all, was working on resolving that issue to avoid throwing out any throw-away names....
Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Burns JM, Hajibabaei M, Bertrand C, et al. (2011) Reading the Complex Skipper Butterfly Fauna of One Tropical Place. PLoS
ONE 6(8): e19874. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019874
Janzen, D.H., W. Hallwachs and J.M. Burns. 2010. A tropical horde of counterfeit predator eyes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107 (26):11659-11665 (+ appendix).
Burns, J.M., D.H. Janzen & W. Hallwachs. 2010. Of many similar species in the Neotropical genus Porphyrogenes (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), a new one, repeatedly reared in Costa Rica, is relatively distinct. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 112(1): 32-42.
Burns JM, Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Hajibabaei M, Hebert PDN (2010) Genitalia, DNA barcodes, larval facies, and foodplants place the mimetic species Neoxeniades molion in Rhinthon (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae). J Lep Soc 64: 69-78.
Burns JM, Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Hajibabaei M, Hebert PDN (2009) Genitalia, DNA barcodes, and life histories synonymize Telles with Thracides - a genus in which Telles arcalaus looks out of place (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 63: 141-153.
Fordyce, J.A., M.L. Forister, C.C. Nice, J.M. Burns and A.M. Shapiro. 2008. Patterns of genetic variation between the checkered skippers Pyrgus communis and Pyrgus albescens (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Annals Entomological Society of America 101(4): 794-800.
Burns, J. M., D. H. Janzen, M. Hajibabaei, W. Hallwachs, and P. D. N. Hebert. 2008. DNA barcodes and cryptic species of skipper butterflies in the genus Perichares in Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 6350-6355.
Burns, J. M., D. H. Janzen, M. Hajibabaei, W. Hallwachs and P. D. N. Hebert 2007. DNA barcodes of closely related (but morphologically and ecologically distinct) species of skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae) can differ by only one to three nucleotides. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 61:138-153.
Hajibabaei, M., D. H. Janzen, J. M. Burns, W. Hallwachs and P. D. N. Hebert 2006. DNA barcodes distinguish species of tropical Lepidoptera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS], 103:968-971.
Burns, J. M. and D. H. Janzen 2005. Pan-neotropical genus Venada (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae) is not monotypic: Four new species occur on one volcano in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 59:19-34.
Burns, J. M. and D. H. Janzen 2005. What's in a name? Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae: Telemiades Hubner 1819 [Pyrdalus Mabille 1903]: new combinations Telemiades corbulo (Stoll) and Telemiades oiclus (Mabille)--and more. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 107:770-781.
Janzen, D. H., M. Hajibabaei, J. M. Burns, W. Hallwachs, E. Remigio and P. D. N. Hebert 2005. Wedding biodiversity inventory of a large and complex Lepidoptera fauna with DNA barcoding. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 360:1835-1845.
Hebert, P. D. N., E. H. Penton, J. M. Burns, D. H. Janzen, and W. Hallwachs 2004. Ten species in one: DNA barcoding reveals cryptic species in the neotropical skipper butterfly Astraptes fulgerator. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 101:14812-14817.
Burns, J. M. and D. H. Janzen. 2001. Biodiversity of Pyrrhopygine Skipper Butterflies (Hesperiidae) in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 55:15-43
Burns JM, Janzen DH (1999) Drephalys: division of this showy neotropical genus, plus a new species and the immatures and food plants of two species from Costa Rican dry forest (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae). J Lep Soc 53: 77-89.
Burns, J. M. 1998. Pseydodrephalys: A New Genus Comprising Three Showy, Neotropical Species (One New) Removed From -And Quite Remote From - Drephalys (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 52:364-380.
Burns JM, Janzen DH (2001) Biodiversity of pyrrhopygine skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae) in the Area de Conservacio´n Guanacaste, Costa Rica. J Lep Soc 55: 15-43.
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From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Karl Magnacca
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:18 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa
On Wed, 14 Sep 2011 James Whitfield wrote:
> The point is here that with Brower's paper BOTH classical taxonomic
> opinion and DNA barcodes were ignored. The barcodes (limited as
> they may be) actually only backed up what a taxonomist who paid a
> lot of attention to life history and natural history had already
> recognized - that there were likely to be species taxa WITHIN
> Astraptes fulgerator. If it is 10 or not, we cannot perhaps be
> sure yet, but it is surely not 1. BOTH morphology and genetics
> indicate that. Can we not leave the issue to Burns, an experienced
> hesperiid taxonomist, and not to Brower, who has not seriously
> studied these taxa?
Burns has had seven years since the first Astraptes paper was
published, and according to that, these taxa were recognized by
subtle morphological characters and larval host preferences long
before. The 2004 paper even declares: "Should the 10 species of A.
fulgerator identified in this study be formally described despite
their morphological similarity? Yes." So if they haven't done so
after this time, when the paper has become cited so often, they've
somewhat abdicated responsibility. Given that Janzen's group has
continued to publish high-profile papers like this in PNAS touting
the diversity of various groups without actually describing the
species - especially when many of their supposed species fall well
within the usual range of intraspecific variation - I think it's
entirely appropriate to give a message like this to either put up or
Also, I don't see the names as being insulting, except possibly for
"favilla" being feminine (not knowing Latin, I don't know if
"favillus" is a valid word). Overall I didn't see the article as
being vituperative at all, which was somewhat surprising given
Brower's usual style.
University of Hawaii-Hilo
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