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Re, type localities and distributions of species

Geoffrey Read Geoffrey.Read at actrix.gen.nz
Fri Dec 8 04:46:29 EST 1995

James Blake once wrote:
>So, I ask the question as to what importance is the type locality in 
>understanding a species, if it has been moved around from place to 
>place and the actual area of the world where it originated is somewhere 
>quite different?

Maybe Jim was trolling for bites but here goes ...
Type locality has no importance in understanding the biogeography of a 
taxon as long as it is definitely a single species. But if I see a new 
record of 'cosmopolitan' _Paraprionospio pinnata_ outside type locality 
Chile I'm going to take some convincing it's genuine. Also, to state the 
obvious, in the absence of the original specimens, someone goes back to the 
type locality (and hopes they don't find more than one member of the genus, 
and that the site is not now 'infilled' dry land).
>I recall a conversation I once had with a colleague who refused to 
>accept an identification I had made because the type locality was 
>somewhere far distant from where the specimens being identified were 
>collected. ...
When an expert has done the id there is usually no problem but most 
polychaete ids aren't made by experts. In addition to the basic
nomenclatural role, type localities should have cautionary influence when 
making routine identifications because the overwhelming majority of 
polychaete species have limited distributions. For instance in New Zealand 
we don't especially need any *more* erroneous records of vaguely similar 
species from far-flung countries. 
>I think you see the point, namely that type localities are only the
>places where the animals were first collected, not necessarily where
>they are most common or where they originated.
Yes. Or hopefully first collected. Sometimes they have been named elsewhere 
too, especially the wandering ones ;-)
   Geoff Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz>
   Annelida resources =>  http://www.actrix.gen.nz/users/chaeto/index.html

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