[Taxacom] When electing a neotype, how to define the other gender
dyanega at ucr.edu
Tue Oct 1 21:47:46 CDT 2013
On 10/1/13 12:44 PM, Gaimari, Stephen at CDFA wrote:
> 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).
All of the clauses in Art. 75.3 MUST be fulfilled before a neotype can
be considered validly designated - it says so right in the header to the
Article ("A neotype is validly designated when... and only when...").
Anyone who finds a flaw in compliance with ANY of the sub-articles can
rightfully claim that the neotype was NOT validly designated. Having a
specimen in your hand that IS from the type locality when the putative
neotype is NOT is, in and of itself, direct evidence that the neotype is
NOT from as close as practicable (if you could get your hands on a
specimen, then so could the author, /ipso facto/). This does not require
any ruling of the Commission or use of the Plenary Powers - just a
published statement saying "Author X demonstrably did not fulfill the
conditions of Art. 75.3, therefore their neotype designation is not
valid, and I hereby designate specimen Y to be the neotype."
> 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 apparently have no lawyers in your family. ;-)
> 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".
Only if you can *make* *a convincing case* that use of the opposite sex
is desirable. I contend that cases where the sex of the holotype lacks
crucial species-diagnostic features that can only be accounted for by
switching to a neotype of the opposite sex are very rare - so rare as to
be meaningless in the broader discussion. As such, anyone can
automatically gainsay someone else's neotype designation when that
person simply chooses a specimen of the opposite sex for a trivial
reason such as (e.g.) because it's in better condition than the other
specimens on hand. Obviously, the solution if one has poor specimens to
work with is to obtain more specimens until one locates a decent
specimen of the same sex as the lost type. Otherwise, your selection of
neotype is effectively out of laziness, and I don't see the wording of
this article as suggesting that a reason like "I checked for specimens
in six different collections, and I don't feel like writing letters to
anyone else to look for better specimens" is a good sound justification
for the selection of a neotype that violates 75.3.
> You seem to imply that if specimens are not from the original locality, they are somehow, again, not "eligible" to be neotypes.
They most certainly are not eligible if even a SINGLE specimen exists
which IS from the type locality. For example, the newly-described fly
Stichopogon venturiensis has a whopping 104 designated paratypes. Two of
them are males (like the holotype) from the type locality (there are
also 4 females). NONE of the remaining 102 paratypes is eligible to
become neotype so long as those two specimens exist, because choice of
any other specimen *over those* would violate 75.3.5 and/or 75.3.6.
Therefore, those 102 other paratypes have no foreseeable nomenclatural
purpose, though they most definitely serve a taxonomic purpose. That was
the point I was making about a low percentage of paratypes being
eligible to be types (in this example, less than 2%). If what we intend
is for ALL paratypes to be nomenclaturally-significant, then we would
have to re-write the Code to make it so.
> 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.
Then find a better specimen. There are hundreds of museums in the world,
and claiming that it isn't practicable for you to contact more than a
handful of them when *virtually all of them have e-mail* is not a
persuasive argument. Is the term "practicable" subjective? You bet it
is!! The Code is jam-packed with little gems like that, just waiting for
people to argue over them (just like we're doing now). ;-)
> 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.
Then go back to the type locality and collect a fresh one, or find
someone else who can visit that locality for you. There are lots of
biologists, and not that many places that no one can ever re-visit.
> Or one may not want to designate a neotype from the original type locality that is now a parking lot.
That is hardly a common occurrence.
> 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).
Invalid neotype designations are retroactive. If the neotype is not from
the type locality, and other specimens exist which are, then the neotype
was self-evidently not validly designated to begin with.
> 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.
Yes, but "I can't personally afford a trip to the type locality" is not
evidence, nor is "I have to finish this thesis within the next 6 months,
I don't have time to solicit more specimen loans" or "My grant didn't
budget for a trip to Paris". Yes, that harsh attitude does ignore some
of the real and awkward aspects of doing taxonomy, and I hope you
realize that a large part of my stance is playing Devil's Advocate, but
the plain fact is that the fulfillment of Art. 75.3 is NOT arbitrated by
the Commission, so literally all it takes is ONE person who disputes
one's neotype in print, and there is nothing the Commission can do to
stop them from setting your neotype aside and putting theirs in its
place. Accordingly, you had better dang well take those requirements
very, very seriously, if you want your neotype to be immune from
challenges. There are, in fact, people unscrupulous enough to destroy
holotypes in order to replace them with specimens of their own, and
others who spend their entire careers searching for unreplaced homonyms
so they can become authors of replacement names, so I'm willing to bet
that there are others who will happily replace neotypes if they are in a
position to do so and the Code allows it.
Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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