[Taxacom] "nude" Coccinellid genera?

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Mon Mar 4 10:31:50 CST 2013

>> There might be a way for a museum to flag names like this before they get
>> scooped up by aggregators, or even better, to avoid having them scooped
>> up, but in this case the name sailed through, and GBIF and ALA can show
>> you a map where the holotype male was collected, and another where the
>> paratype male and female were picked up.
> Is there a way to publish "label names" to make folks  aware of them and
> not make them nomina nuda by publishing them.

This is a major issue in the large online aggregates of taxonomic
names.  Several large museums are compiling catalogs and uploading the
names online, where they are promptly taken up by various collections.
 However, these museum catalogs are often compiled by volunteer or
undergraduate student workers with a rather limited acquaintance with
the relevant nomenclature.  Manuscript or label names, misspellings
(whether errors on the labels or introduced in the cataloguing by
misreading of labels, which often have appalling handwriting), errors
in the catalog (putting the wrong locality and name together when
dealing with a batch of specimens), woefully outdated classification,
and spectacular mistakes in classification (again, likely due to a
mistake in assembling the catalog) are common.  Unless the data are
checked over by someone with at least a decent grasp of scientific
nomenclature and preferably with good familiarity with the particular
taxonomic group, the amount of garbage can be quite high.

Although knowing a bit of scientific Latin won't automatically tell
you how a particular name would have been spelled by the original
author, it does help a lot in guessing what possible misspellings
might be.  It's actually not that hard a task for automated
checking-two reported species names in the same genus with fairly
similar spelling, especially ones differing only in the last few
letters, should be checked to see if they are variants of a single
name.  More complex is the possible use of synonyms, e.g. chinensis
and sinensis or nigra and melanoides are conceivable lapses for each

Ultimately it's a matter of whether a source wants to take the time
and money to get the information right.

Dr. David Campbell
Visiting Professor
Department of Natural Sciences
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

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