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

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Mon Sep 30 19:48:16 CDT 2013

On 9/30/13 4:32 PM, Frank.Krell at dmns.org wrote:
> Phew, fortunately Code Articles 75.3.5 and 6 do not deal with the question whether or not selecting paratypes as neotypes. After your comment I thought there might be a contradiction in the Code that needs to be fixed. Fortunately there isn't a contradiction.
> Or do you say that paratypes are generally not consistent with the holotype and do generally originate far away from the type locality? Certainly not.
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 
Maybe this percentage is different for taxa described in the 1800's when 
type localities were very ambiguous, but modern revisionary works seem 
to include rather precise type localities, and very large numbers of 
paratypes, very few of which come from the type locality - accordingly, 
I imagine that a more comprehensive review would likely show a low 
percentage of paratypes that fulfill 75.3.5 and 75.3.6. If you truly 
believe that paratypes are intended to serve a nomenclatural function, 
then why not change the wording of Recommendation 75A so it states:

Authors are advised to choose neotypes from any surviving paratypes or paralectotypes as long as they are of the same gender as the holotype, and from the type locality.

Frankly, given the increasing reliance upon gene sequencing for taxon 
diagnosis, in most cases a compelling argument could be made to use 
freshly-collected material for a neotype even when topotypic paratypes 
ARE available, and I would personally prefer a Recommendation along 
THOSE lines instead.


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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