[Taxacom] unrecognizable species, what to do...

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 25 10:09:56 CDT 2013

Hi Lawrence,
       One could declare Hypothenemus eruditus a nomen dubium (perhaps along with all of the synonyms as well).  Then you would have a clean slate and thus minimize future confusion (not to mention being able to avoid wasting lots of time on what could end up a hopeless task involving all the synonyms).   
       Or one could submit an application to the International Commission for the use of its plenary powers to give the name H. eruditus a new validity.  This might be a safer alternative, especially if you want to continue using H. eruditus for one of the clades.   Actually an application to the International Commission might be a good idea even if you want to declare it a nomen dubium.  Either way, having the Commission endorse your proposal could help prevent possible confusion or challenges in the future.  
                ----------Ken Kinman

> From: lawrence.kirkendall at bio.uib.no
> Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:34:14 +0200
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] unrecognizable species, what to do...
> I am a new member of Taxacom, so I don't know if this has been discussed recently.
> As I understand it, one cannot normally designate a neotype when types can be found. But what do you do when your species, described in the 19th century, turns out to be a species complex, and because of the poor condition of the syntypes one cannot safely attribute any particular individual to any of the clades you can now recognize as separate species? The example my colleagues and I are struggling with is Hypothenemus eruditus Westwood (1836), a 1 mm - long species which may well be the most abundant and widespread bark beetle on the planet. We can separate a number of clades out, using a combination of molecular and morphological characters. Especially for such old mounted specimens, important diagnostic morphological characters for species in this genus (such the frons, or elytral puntures & setae) are frequently either hidden, worn, or at least partially covered with glue; in addition, old specimens are usually card-mounted, making even a visible frons almost impossile to view sufficiently well. The problem is not just with the syntype series for eruditus Westwood; the current catalog lists 75 synonyms, and my suspicion is that it is going to be hopeless, trying to associate the clades we can (finally) now recognize with older, synonymized names--especially bearing in mind that the species is globally distributed! 
> What do aphidologists or acarologists do, in a species complex, if slide mounts have darkened to the point where critical characters can no longer be discerned, assuming that sufficiently detailed drawings do not exist?
> Thanks for any advice,
> Lawrence Kirkendall
> Prof. Lawrence Kirkendall 
> Department of Biology 
> Univ. Bergen
> Thormøhlensgt 53a
> N-5006 Bergen, Norway
> Department of Biology
> Postboks 7803
> 5020 BERGEN
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