Species name and nonindingeous status
James T. Carlton
jcarlton at williams.edu
Fri Jan 31 16:16:43 EST 2003
Thanks to Jim Blake for bringing up some important points. In this case,
the author of the work in question (and thus the origin of putting the
name "Mediomastus californiensis" (MC) in a report on nonindigenous
species of Tampa Bay (Florida)) is Patrick Baker (at the University of
Florida in Gainesville) and not David Karlen (who is just reviewing
Patrick's draft report).
Patrick treats MC as cryptogenic, not introduced, in his report, and was
inspired to include it because previous surveys of Tampa Bay had not
found this worm in the Bay prior to 1963 (one can of course think of
some dozen or more reasons as to why it may not actually have been
ostensibly absent before, including it being overlooked, it being
previously rare prior to some environmental change in the bay, it being
misidentified as something else ... or indeed it being an introduction of
some Mediomastus species into the Bay... and many more possibilities).
Patrick notes in his draft report that MC might not be native to California.
A species name based upon a geographic location -- while it may
provide a general "heads-up" or raise an eyebrow when that same name
is used for a species found at a very different location in the world -- is
not, as Jim has noted, evidence for where a species is native. A number
of species, for example, have first been described in areas where we
eventually realize that they are not native (and yet having had the name
of the region where they were first found bestowed upon them as their
name). Years or decades or centuries later we may work out that the
species is in fact native somewhere else.
In the case in hand, invasions may not, as Jim notes, be the game afoot.
Mediomastus "californiensis" (as with so many other polychaetes,
hydroids, bryozoans, filamentous algae, sponges, flatworms, and so on,
with cosmonames) may in all likelihood simply be a group of undescribed
species, as Jim suggests (for example, undescribed North Atlantic
species, a more southern species perhaps (Florida, GOMEX, Brazil,
etc.), another species in Korea, and so on).
James T. Carlton
Editor-in-Chief, Biological Invasions
Professor of Marine Sciences, Williams College, Williamstown,
Director, Williams-Mystic, The Maritime Studies Program of Williams
College and Mystic Seaport
Maritime Studies Program
Williams College -- Mystic Seaport
P. O. Box 6000
75 Greenmanville Avenue
Mystic, Connecticut 06355 U.S.A.
E: jcarlton at williams.edu
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