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

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Wed Sep 25 16:24:31 CDT 2013

I agree with Doug and others: the appropriate form to solve this problem
is to ask the Commission to set aside the existing types and to fix a

The other option which was proposed, would not work.

Declaration of a name as a nomen dubium is not a nomenclatural act. "Nomen
dubium" is only an informal term. Its meaning is "a name of unknown or
doubtful application".
It describes circumstances concerning the taxonomic identity of a name. It
is not possible to "declare" something as doubtful. Either something is
doubtful or not, this is inherent and only needs to be discovered.


> Doug and others have responded to this stating that an application can be
> made to the ICZN to designate a neotype, with which I wholly agree, and
> Doug has further recommended pinning the type locality as close as
> possible to the original type (type series).
> I would further strongly "recommend" -- as it is not discussed in the
> Code
> -- to place that neotype in the same museum as the original type series.
> This would be a good idea for most neotypes, but especially in the case
> of
> older (i.e, 18th, 19th century) well-known zoologists. In the case of
> Westwood types, Oxford is the most logical place one would look for a
> Westwood type and future workers on this beetle may not know to look in
> two places for the old and 'new' type material.
> I'm cross-posting this to the ICZN list for the following reason:
> In addition, the way Article 75.5 is written: without specification that
> neotype be deposited in the same institution as the original type series
> that is alleged to be poorly preserved, it opens up the potential for
> abuse where a taxonomist could add more types to his or her collection by
> declaring the need for neotypes because of poorly preserved collections,
> while depleting types from other collections or causing confusion when a
> neotype is located in another collection from where all the other types
> of
> an author may reside (what is this was done to, say, Linnaeus types?).
> Probably will never happen much but it has happened, but when you write
> laws, you need to be as forward thinking as possible to all possibilities
> and minimize the potential for abuse of that law. I would thuds recommend
> that Article 75.5 be reworded or at least (although unfortunately
> unenforceable) a Recommendation be added to it to state the best way to
> preserve such neotypes would be to place them in the same depository as
> the original "alleged poorly" preserved type seres.
> Just a thought.
> -Neal
> On Stardate 9/25/13 2:34 AM, "Lawrence Kirkendall"
> <lawrence.kirkendall at bio.uib.no> wrote:
>>I am a new member of Taxacom, so I don't know if this has been discussed
>>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
>>Taxacom Mailing List
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>>Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
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