Use Of Specific Epithets

Discussion in 'Codex taxinomiae plantarum (CTP)' started by Mahon, Nov 23, 2006.

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  1. Nov 23, 2006 #1

    Mahon

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    I discussed this topic with Guido Braem before writing on here. Personally, I think this subject is a very important one, and should be fixed to correct errors and confusion between taxa. Here is the problem, and I offer a possible treatment.

    The incessant use of repetitous specific epithets is an issue that needs to be addressed. When searching for a certain taxon, there are usually synonymous epithets. Sometimes, along with synonymy, we will find another genus that is closely related, and see that the same specific epithet is used (regardless of gender). I will further address and clarify the problem with examples.

    When searching for Masdevallia dodsonii Luer (1976), we find that it has been reduced to synonymy in the generic level. We then look for the segregate genera of Masdevallia, we find two genera with the specific epithet of dodsonii; Dracula and Dryadella. Without any knowledge of any of these taxa, which do we choose as the correct accepted epithet? Both genera have been segregated from Masdevallia, and both have the specific epithet of dodsonii. Is it right to assume that all three treatments are the same taxon? No conclusions can really be drawn without studying the type specimen and information for each of these taxa (or is it really taxon?). In fact, Masdevallia dodsonii Luer (1976) has been reduced to synonomy by the author of the species. The correctly accepted nomenclatural name is Dracula dodsonii (Luer) Luer (1978). As for Dryadella dodsonii Luer (1999), it is a seperate and distinct species.

    By this example, it is easy to see that taxa (or maybe taxon?) can be confused with each other when closely related. This is just a single example, there are many.

    I offer a solution, which must be done in steps. First, I believe that a guideline should be made in order to clarify the use of specific epithets. We already know that a specific epithet cannot be repeated in a single genus, but an addition to this guideline should be added. It should state that 'a specific epithet cannot be repeated in genera that have shared synonymy'.

    This means, in the example above, that the specific epithet for Dryadella dodsonii Luer (1999) would (and should) be changed in accordance with the new guideline to keep order within classification. This would also simplify searching for a certain taxon, without questioning other similar genera with the same epithets.

    I would like to hear all input on this idea and these problems. If it is needed, I will post another example of confusing specific epithets.

    -P.A. Mahon
     
  2. Nov 24, 2006 #2

    Braem

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    I will go into this problem later, but a short comment to begin with: the first thing you have to do is get copies of ALL publications involved. I mean the original publications, not secondary ones.

    Guido
     
  3. Nov 24, 2006 #3

    NYEric

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    I would not think that Masdevallia, Dracula, and Dryadella would be the same.
     
  4. Nov 24, 2006 #4

    Mahon

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    They are not the same, that is why I brought this up. There is much confusion between the specific epithets of closely related genera that have the same specific epithet. Dracula and Dryadella are two segregate genera of Masdevallia, made in the same year (1978), same publication (Selbyana 2), same author (Dr. Luer). It is confusing because we don't know what is synonymy or not, without looking at the publication (and type), and researching. Here is something to maybe simplify what I am getting at;

    Some Masdevallia -> Dryadella
    Some Masdevallia -> Dracula
    ________________________________

    Masdevallia dodsonii -> ???
    Masdevallia dodsonii -> Dracula?
    Masdevallia dodsonii -> Dryadella?
    ________________________________

    The result:
    Masdevallia dodsonii = Dracula dodsonii
    Masdevallia dodsoniiDryadella dodsonii


    -P.A. Mahon
     
  5. Nov 24, 2006 #5

    Jon in SW Ohio

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    Sounds similar to the confusion we had a while back about whether Cypripedium micranthum and Paphiopedilum micranthum were the same thing.

    So was Masdevallia dodsonii morphologically what we now commonly agree are Draculas? I agree, giving plant genera the same species names when they were once the same genera is completely confusing. This is my main gripe with the grouping genera like Laelinae instead of Laelia/Cattleya/Sophronitis as there is typically more than one with the same species name.

    Jon
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2006
  6. Nov 24, 2006 #6

    Braem

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    OK, Mahon et alia [this is not an insult - I am going to put that in everywhere because I am getting fed up with being accused of insulting people all the time] , you have just about said everything that needs to be said. Just let me complete it and review it in my own words:

    You have 3 taxa. All at the species level. For the sake of this discussion we will assume that they have all been validly and effectively published. (For that you need to have the publications and have the Code). And that is why I keep telling people to go back to the "original publications".

    Now lets start of with Masdevallia dodsonii Luer.

    Luer segregates a group of Masdevallia as a separate genus (Dracula). His Masdevallia dodsonii is one species of that group. Thus, he makes a new combination. His Masdevallia dodsonii Luer does now become Dracula dodsonii (Luer) Luer, and Masdevallia dodsonii Luer is what we botanists call "the basionym". That is easy to understand: "basi" or "bas" referring to the basis, and the rest of the word "ionym" or "onym" pointing at the word "synonym". Thus very simple: a basionym is a synonym but at the same time the name under which the species was originally described. The author of the basionym is put in brackets, and that is why we refer to that author as the "bracket author". In our case, the bracket author and the author of the new combination are the same. But that is pure chance.
    It is a good idea to include that bracket author as it gives lost of information:

    1) It shows that there is another name for the species, and
    2) it tells you who described the species originally

    Thus as Mahon clearly said, Masdevallia dodsonii = Dracula dodsonii

    What we have left is Dryadella dodsonii Luer.
    Now Dryadella is also a segregate from Masdevallia. Now, theoretically Luer could have made a mistake and have transferred his Masdevallia dodsonii to Dryadella and also to Dracula (although this kind of error is very rare, it has happened before: for example Lindley has described a species as a Laelia and one page later described the same species as a Cattleya) and then it would be a question of deciding whether "Masdevallia dodsonii" belongs into Dracula or Dryadella.

    However, I assume (I did not check) that Dryadella dodsonii is a different species altogether (as indicated by Mahon)

    Thus we have 3 (three) taxa and those represent 2 (two) species.

    I know that some of you object to the same specific epithet in genera of the same "group". However, in case of a recombination (as in Dracula dodsonii) the rules say that you have to retain the specific epithet (there are some exceptions, but lets not confuse the issue for now), and secondly you can (theoretically) have a species with the same specific epithet in each and every plant genus you want.

    Guido


     
  7. Nov 24, 2006 #7

    Jon in SW Ohio

    Jon in SW Ohio

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    Gotcha, I think I understand now.

    So there currently is:

    Dryadella dodsonii
    http://www.orchidspecies.com/drydodsoni.htm

    Dracula dodsonii
    http://www.draculaspecies.com/dracula-dodsonii

    and Masdevallia dodsonii which is a basionym for the Dracula dodsonii, and not a currently existing species of what are now commonly accepted as Masdevallias.

    This can be confusing, and I appreciate it when authors like Guido include this in their published works, as I like to be able to easily find out what the basionyms and synonyms for a plant are so I don't think there is another species out there.

    Jon
     
  8. Nov 24, 2006 #8

    Mahon

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    Jon,

    This is exactly like the Cypripedium micranthum and Paphiopedilum micranthum confusion! :) Also, same with Cypripedium malipoense and Paphiopedilum malipoense (since there was once talk about P. malipoense being akin to Cypripedium)... since

    As for using the subtribal level in replacement of a generic epithet, I don't think that will solve any problems. In fact, I would think it would make more problems. How could we go about changing the Pleurothallids into 'Pleurothallidiinae' for the genus? There are just too many plants, and saying "I have a Pleurothallid", we are dealing with a few thousand (or more) species...

    Perhaps annother alternative solution (which goes along with your suggestion) is add a nomenclatural level between Subtribe and Genus. It would be a 'group' that groups together genera that are morphologically similar and share more defining traits (such as Chromosome count, or general relation)... I think DNA would be the determining factor in this 'group'. Any ideas on this suggestion? Going in between the problems... :)

    -PM
     
  9. Nov 24, 2006 #9

    Mahon

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    Guido has it correct! :) (I didn't see the post until I replied to Jon)

    This is what is "stupid"... we can technically have the same specific epithet for every genus, but we need to somehow limit it to a specific group. Perhaps adding a group in between Subtribe and Genus will solve the problem? Then we define the regulations for that 'group'?

    Thanks Guido for your input! :)

    -PM
     
  10. Nov 25, 2006 #10
    funny...

    sounds like the notion of a "Super Genus" previously discussed... hmm...
     
  11. Nov 25, 2006 #11

    Marco

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  12. Nov 25, 2006 #12

    Mahon

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    Incorporating a "super genus" (which is using the subtribal level in place of the generic level) would just cause confusion between related and distinct taxa. Think; we need to first address the problem of repeat specific epithets first. If we were to switch the subtribe into generic status, then (using the Pleurothallids as an example), we will have ten distinct taxa with the specific epithet of dodsonii, with three basionyms, all from the same author. What can we do now?

    I think incorporating new guidelines for the repetition of specific epithets will be the best problem solver. Perhaps we can go as dramatic as limiting to the subtribal level, or with some sort of basis, group related genera together and prevent repeat specific epithets within that group.

    What do you think? :)

    -PM
     
  13. Nov 25, 2006 #13

    Mahon

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    Lost... please explain?

    -PM
     
  14. Nov 25, 2006 #14

    Braem

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    Pat et alia,

    If we were to throw the groups together again, as has been suggested, then we would have a problem. Lets say (just for discussion) that we simply put all the slippers back together again. We would (logically) use the oldest genus: Cypripedium Linné 1753.

    Cypripedium malipoense Chen & Liu is retained, and Paphiopedilum malipoense Chen & Tsi must be transferred to Cypripedium and as the specific epithet "malipoense" is blocked in Cypripedium (by Cypripedium malipoense Chen & Liu), what has been Paphiopedilum must re renamed. That is, for example an instance where new names must be given.

    However, the situation would be different if we had a new Cypripedium venustum Garfield 1942 (this is just as an example). We would have Paphiopedilum venustum (Wallich ex Sims) Pfitzer and the said Cypripedium venustum.
    Now everything goes back into Cypripedium and we have Cypripedium venustum Wallich ex Sims described in 1820 and Cypripedium venustum Garfield described in 1942. In this case, the latter must be renamed.

    As for using the subtribal level to replace a generic epithet, as Pat says, that is not acceptable. By definition "Pleurothallidinae" is a given taxonomic level and cannot be "misused". I am also against adding a new (additional) level in the hierarchy. In my opinion, such additional level would make maters even more confusing to all those not familiar with taxonomy.

    Guido


     
  15. Nov 25, 2006 #15
    Gosh, I can't believe you’re even interested in what I think... oh well… “bites, yet again”... :rolleyes:

    First of all, before we fix the problem, maybe the taxonomists should stop splitting current genera and exacerbating the problem until a better naming system is in place. After all, every time a Genus is split, there becomes another basionym….

    By the way, why is one process of increasing basionym preferable to another?

    Sure, put a limit on specific epithet… actually, why stop at ‘subtribe’, go all the way… limit it at the ‘family’ level… so that when all orchids are named after a combination of ‘family’ + ‘specific epithet’ eg Orchidaceae purpurata, we've slowed / stopped the increase in similar 'specific epithet' .


    Now, I see my fault when I throw names in the taxonomic basket willy nilly! I confuse the disparity in the levels, I mean after all Laeliinae is a 'subtribe' and I was using it as a 'genus', again Orchidaceae is a ‘family’ but I was using it as a ‘genus’. Silly Billy, should have played within the naming convention, or is that the Code?

    hmm…. ‘genus’ + ‘specific epithet’ = species name

    pffttt… get rid of ‘genus’ and use ‘family’ instead! This way, the taxonomists can keep changing the genus that a species is in and the name of the orchid would still be the same!

    “ooooh”, I’m turning the whole naming convention upside down… Telling ‘genus’ that his job as part of a species name is being given to that lovely lady ‘family’!

    I’ve said it before, and will keep saying it….What is of interest is that the name of an orchid is stable! Not Laelia purpurata today, not Sophronitis purpurata tomorrow, not a segregated 'new' genus next week!

    So!

    Make one final big change! Change it to Orchidaceae purpurata! Tomorrow, when the relationships between the plants are better understood through molecular technology, then re-allign their relationship by showing they are now in a different ‘tribe’, ‘subtribe’, ‘genus’, whatever… but no matter what the relationship, the name remains STABLE!


    well, that's all folks.... "goes to get another beer"
     
  16. Nov 25, 2006 #16

    Braem

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    Ok, so you want to put Dracula, Dryadella back into Masdevallia?
    OK, so you want Cattleya, Laelia, Laeliopsis, Broughtonia, Cattleyopsis, Brassavola, Encyclia, etc back in Epidendrum?
    OK, so you want to put Mexicoa, Brassia, Tolumnia, Psychopis back into Oncidium?

    I am afraid that I don't see why this could possibly clarify things?

    There is no "increasing basionym" please explain what you mean.

    part of it.

    OK ... so we delete all the street names. Now you have NewYork 2765, New York 3777, Chicago 2666. Or maybe we should do away with the city names as well, USA 56677, Europe 17835 ... Great system, makes it much clearer.

    But that is a problem at the species and generic level. That has nothing to do with hierachy.
    If you have "New York 77567" who tells you that there is not someone going to come and change the numbers around.?

    Nope, and it has been said many times before that you can't use a family as a genus

    Sorry but that makes me grin. I hope you know that what you say would mean that all of us would have a molecular lab at home. And who tells you that the molecular techniques don't evolve. In fact they already have.

    which one? Or is there only one kind? .... Just think about beer and you will understand how taxonomy works and why it is needed (also applies to wine by the way)

    Guido
     
  17. Nov 25, 2006 #17

    Tony

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    If a beer taxonomist went into my fridge and changed my Sam Adams Octoberfest into Miller High Life I'd be pretty unhappy... :D
     
  18. Nov 25, 2006 #18

    Braem

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    Do they really write "Octoberfest" with a "c"? (and is it dark or blonde?) [Important taxonomic question for beer taxonomists]

    Guido
     
  19. Nov 25, 2006 #19

    Tony

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    Yes, it is spelled with a "c", and it is dark.
     
  20. Nov 25, 2006 #20

    Braem

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    Ok ... Interesting that they would name a beer for the "Oktoberfest" and then make the error of writing it with a "c".
    And the dark beers are real good.

    Guido
     

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