[Taxacom] Why stability?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Apr 29 22:16:13 CDT 2015

Hi Felipe,

Once again, let me restate the context in which I said what I did. I was responding to what I perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be an incorrect assumption in others posts on the subject to the effect that an ID is *always* based on a publication, which should therefore be cited. I am not denying that a name is based on a publication. I am talking about identification. I am saying that in a very large number of cases, there are no useful publications to act as a basis for identifications. Some of the species involved must await careful taxonomic revision before they can be meaningfully identified. But many others are actually quite distinctive and even quite easy to recognise. In the absence of a modern taxonomic study, we identify these by other means, most aften comparison to named material in collections. This may sometimes lead to misidentifications, but is probably reliable enough to be useful for pragmatic purposes. Think of it this way, a child can
 identify a cat or a dog, but there is no publication to cite for the ID, as done by the child, and yet it may be 100% reliable! There may not even be extant types for Canis familiaris or Felis catus. My point was merely that not every identification is based on a publication, that's all! In my experience, most IDs for ecological studies are not done by anyone wading through the literature trying to ID things that way. They compare specimens to those in a reasonably reliable collection, either themselves, or, if they are more sensible, they enlist the help of someone else with greater experience in doing such comparisons.



On Thu, 30/4/15, Soto-Adames, Felipe N <fsoto at illinois.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
 To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>, "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
 Received: Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 3:01 PM
 On Apr 29, 2015, at 9:17
 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 I am merely saying that in lots of
 cases (not all cases, but lots), species cannot be
 identified from the literature,
 This is a puzzling assertion. It is true that often we
 cannot determine if what we might have at hand is different
 from what was originally described, but that does not mean
 that the form itself cannot be identified. Following your
 argument the only way
  to identify species is by direct comparison with the
 holotype (or paratypes). However, old types are often as
 useful for identification as original descriptions. In
 addition, all identifications have to be traced back to the
 literature, because the names are
  made available by the literature.
 Maybe you have to re-state your case.
 Felipe N. Soto-Adames
 Department of Entomology
 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
 201 Shelford Vivarium
 606 E Healey St.
 Champaign, IL 61820
 office: (217) 244-4552
 mobile: (217) 419-2544
 Skype: fsotoadames
 fsoto at illinois.edu

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