[Taxacom] Why stability?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Apr 30 19:02:14 CDT 2015


Gadira acerella Walker, 1866 sensu Hoare 2015

If Hoare had himself anchored his use of the name to a published treatment (e.g., Smith 1995), then you could have likewise trusted Hoare's anchoring, and you could have represented it as "Gadira acerella Walker, 1866 sensu Smith 1995".

It doesn't matter that you never consulted Smith 1995 in your identification, because as I and Guarav have pointed out (Guarav much more effectively than I did), we're not talking necessarily about what source you used to make the identification; we're talking about what taxon circumscription associated with that particular name you're referring to.

If you're not confident in Hoare's judgement in following Smith 1995, then you probably shouldn't be using Hoare as a source, and/or you probably should not be asserting identifications of specimens based on your consultation of that source.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
> Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2015 1:08 PM
> To: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org; gaurav at ggvaidya.com
> Cc: Taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
> Here is a good example of an actual identification (by me) in actual practice:
> http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/1438142
> When I saw the posted photo, I immediately thought Crambidae, but I had
> absolutely no idea of genus or species, because I am not very familiar with N.Z.
> crambids. However, the local lepidopterist (Dr. Robert Hoare) has created an
> image gallery with photos of one (or two) specimen(s) of each N.Z. species of
> that family (possibly not quite all of them), see:
> http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/resources/identification/animals/large-
> moths/image-gallery/crambidae/crambidae. Browsing the gallery, I found one
> image which, in my estimation, is a virtually perfect match
> (http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/image/0017/73007/Gadira
> _acerella.jpg), while none of the other images are very close at all. Although it
> is not quite 100% certain, I am 95+% confident that it is the same species,
> which is a  good enough level of certainty for most IDs (and certainly good
> enough for this example). Nevertheless, I still have no "taxonomic concept" of
> the species. I  simply trust Robert as a reliable source, and trust my own
> judgement of what constitutes a good match. I just don't see how to apply
> Rich's ideas to this sort of identification - a sort that is very common.
> Stephen
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 1/5/15, Gaurav Vaidya <gaurav at ggvaidya.com> wrote:
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
>  To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
>  Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Friday, 1 May, 2015, 10:53 AM
>  Hi Stephen,
>  > On 30 Apr 2015, at 4:27 pm, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
>  wrote:
>  >
>  > I think your confusion may stem from not keeping in  mind the dialectic
> context in which I made my comments. I  was responding to others who had
> suggested that authors  should always cite the publication used for the
> identification of any species that they mention. Basically,  their motivation is
> probably merely to increase citation  rates in taxonomy. My comment was
> intended to point out  that, in a great many cases, identifications are not made
> using any specific publication, even identifications down to  the species level.
> Many names do not have any well defined  "taxonomic concepts" associated
> with them, but may  nevertheless be names for distinctive species which are
> easily identified by direct comparison of specimens (given a  bit of experience
> with the group). For something of an  example, I'm sure you can recognise a
> giraffe if you see  one, but you probably cannot point to any well defined
> "taxonomic concept" (or, if you can, you didn't rely on it  to make  > the
> identification).
>  Sure you can! Rich gave an excellent example earlier: the  Mammal Species of
> the World, 3rd Edition (MSW3) checklist,  which gives you a simple definition of
> a giraffe relative to  other closely related taxa that you can work with.
>  > In many cases, identifications may be based on a very  complex set of things,
> including several publications and  specimens examined, which would not be
> easy or even possible  to spell out as "sensu ..." or "sec ..." Sometimes, for
> example, one does use a publication to identify a specimen,  but the key may
> give a different result to the description,  and both may give a different result
> to comparing a specimen  with the illustrations in the publication. Identification
> is  more of a "wholistic" thing, taking into account all  available evidence. Also,
> your idea of citing something like  "sensu Person who identified it for me"
> wouldn't count for  citation metrics, so really isn't what this dialectic was
> originally about.
>  The point here isn’t how the identification comes about,  but what name is
> being attached to it. It absolutely takes a  huge amount of skill and knowledge
> to identify an individual  as a giraffe, particularly if you don’t have a whole
> animal to look at. But when you make an identification  (“voucher #ABC123 is
> _Giraffa camelopardalis_ (Linnaeus,  1758)”), the question becomes: what do
> you mean by  “Giraffa camelopardalis” in this context? For example,  do you
> agree with Thomas (1901: http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/35988584) that
> _G.
>  camelopardalis reticulata_ should be treated as a separate  species, or with
> the modern view that it is a subspecies of  _camelopardalis_? If at some future
> date _reticulata_ is  split back out of _camelopardalis_, should voucher
> #ABC123  provisionally remain with _camelopardalis_ sensu stricto, or  should
> it be marked as “_camelopardalis_ or  _reticulata_” until it can be
> reidentified? One way of  doing this is to add “sensu MSW3”, which makes it
> explicit that you’re thinking of the _camelopardalis_ that  includes _reticulata_
> (http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/biology/resources/msw3/browse.asp?id
> =14200476),
>  whatever the fate of these taxa will eventually be.
>  cheers,
>  Gaurav

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