[Taxacom] When electing a neotype, how to define the other gender

Gaimari, Stephen@CDFA stephen.gaimari at cdfa.ca.gov
Tue Oct 1 14:44:30 CDT 2013

I submitted a similar (to what I am sending now) reply to the following, from the "unrecognizable species" thread last week, but it never hit Taxacom (appartently I hadn't updated my email address).

Doug Yanega wrote:
> A very important criterion under 75.3 is that a neotype MUST originate 
>from "as nearly as practicable to the original type locality" - failure 
>to comply with this means that if anyone later obtains a specimen that 
>is from a closer site, then they can have your neotype set aside and 
>put their own in place.

In any case, the following is essentially the same segue, so I'll give a slightly modified version of what I tried to submit earlier.

But just to address one quick thing first before moving on - the idea that if someone later obtains a specimen from closer to the original type locality, then they can have your neotype set aside. Of course by use of plenary power this could happen theoretically, but I think it is highly unlikely and would have to be a very extreme case. Once a neotype is validly designated, Article 76.3 states that its place of origin becomes the type locality, regardless of previously published statements of the type locality. So the original type locality becomes moot (although like I said, a very extreme case could justifiably become subject to Commission deliberation). 

Moving on...

Doug Yanega wrote:
> Looking over a set of papers handy on my desk, of 932 paratypes from 108 
> taxa, and assuming that authors typically list topotypical paratypes in 
> an obvious manner so I didn't miss any in my quick scanning, I see only
> 80 out of 932 that are BOTH the same gender as the holotype (and thus 
> eligible to be a neotype under 75.3.5) and also from the exact type 
> locality (thus eligible to be a neotype under 75.3.6). That is, over 90% 
> of all these designated paratypes are not eligible to be neotypes under 
> the Code, and a fair number of the species (67 of 108) have no eligible 
> paratypes at all - including many where the type series is just a holotype 
> and "allotype". Since the majority fail to comply with 75.3.6, I should 
> clarify: I do not consider, for example, that when the holotype of Liris 
> evansi is from "Mexico: Guerrero: 3 mi N Taxco" that any of the 7 paratypes 
> from "Mexico: Guerrero: Acapulco" are from the type locality, nor that it 
> is /not practicable/ to obtain fresh specimens from the type locality, 
> should one desire a genuinely Code-compliant neotype.

What is this about "eligibility" viz. 75.3.5 and 75.3.6? I think you are reading more into these articles than is actually there.

You state that it is to be the same gender as the holotype (and thus *eligible* to be a neotype), but I see nothing in article 75.3.5 that says this. The article allows either sex, even though it states that the specimen should be consistent with what is known about the former name bearing type (with sex certainly being one of these). But, if the author contends that it is desirable to secure stability of nomenclature to use the opposite sex, it fulfills that qualifying condition (and the Code does not regulate this taxonomic judgment of what will better serve stability). So really, from a Code-compliance standpoint, either sex is "eligible".

You seem to imply that if specimens are not from the original locality, they are somehow, again, not "eligible" to be neotypes. But nothing in 75.3.6 says or implies this. There is nothing in the Code that defines what differentiates between "nearly as practicable from the original type locality" and "not near enough". There are many factors that surround a selection being "practicable", e.g., one might not want to designate a specimen even from the exact original type locality if that specimen is in poor enough condition that would not serve stability. One may think it more practicable, with respect to stability of nomenclature, to select the "better" specimen even if it is farther from the original type locality than another specimen of the same sex. Or one may not want to designate a neotype from the original type locality that is now a parking lot. I cannot see this becoming subject to being set aside simply because someone found a specimen from closer to the original type locality (which of course, is no longer the type locality once the neotype is validly designated). 

In any case, Article 75.3.6 does not say that a neotype MUST originate from "as nearly as practicable to the original type locality". It says that one of the particulars to designating a neotype is that the author provide "evidence that the neotype came as nearly as practicable..." So this evidence is what matters, with practicability defined by that author, not whether there is some other specimen out there from closer.

-Steve Gaimari

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