[Taxacom] Use of geographic range data as diagnostic characters

Robert Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sun Feb 17 20:27:17 CST 2013

Derek Sikes wrote:

'Does anyone know of a publication that addresses the issue of using geographic range data in a species diagnosis? And /or in an identification key?'

Don't know of a good synoptic discussion, but geographic range data *are* used in species diagnoses, and have been for a long time. A paper I published in 2003 cited a couple from the wee small world of millipede taxonomy:

'Shelley & Whitehead (1986) used geographic coherence of component taxa as a guide to splitting Sigmoria. Tanabe & Shinohara (1996) applied the same reasoning in their revision of Xystodesmus, first seeking ‘pheno-geographic units’ of phenetically and geographically close populations, then ‘Based on the geographical distribution and the similarity among these units, we decided whether each unit warranted recognition as a species. In this decision we also paid attention to the stability of classification’.'

SHELLEY, R. M. & WHITEHEAD, D. R. 1986. A reconsideration of the milliped genus Sigmoria, with a revision of Deltotaria and an analysis of the genera in the tribe Aphelorini. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 35: 1–223.
TANABE, T. & SHINOHARA, K. 1996. Revision of the millipede genus Xystodesmus, with reference to the status of the tribe Xystodesmini (Diplopoda: Xystodesmidae). Journal of Natural History 30: 1459–1494.

and there must be lots of others. There's also the notorious

Leache, A.D. and Fujita, M.K. 2010. Bayesian species delimitation in West African forest geckos (Hemidactylus fasciatus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Published online as doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0662

''Diagnosis. This species includes all populations that cluster with those from the southern portion of the Congolian rainforest included in this study (southern Cameroon, Gabon and Congo), with strong support in the Bayesian species delimitation model.'
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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