[Annelida] Caution on type labels

Kristian Fauchald FauchaldK at si.edu
Thu Apr 6 08:39:10 EST 2006


This issue may, for non-systematists, sound like an issue in book-keeping
and important only for a few people.  However, more than once, syntypes have
been found to contain more than one species, and without a resolution of
these issues, it can become a mess, not least for ecologists and
physiologists.  As far as I am concerned, type status should not be declared
by a curator of a collection, no matter how competent, but must be published
before it takes effect.  This restriction will remove many problems. 
However, it is worthwhile remembering that the status of types have changed
considerably, from representing a "typical specimen" to the concepts
currently defined in the Code.  
     Procedurally, I believe anybody wanting to recognize a lectotype must
have evidence that the specimen selected in fact was one of the original
syntypes; a specimen that was part of the original material, but not
declared a syntype (or a type) in the original publication, is not eligible
to be a lectotype.  
     And as I said above, a lectotype designation must be published before
it actually can be considered as taking effect:  Just a label in a
collection is NOT adequate.
     Thank you, Geoff, for bringing up this issue!


Kristian Fauchald, Research Zoologist
Department of Zoology
NMNH, Smithsonian Institution
P.O.Box 37012, 
NHB MRC 0163
Washington, DC 20013-7012
phone: 202.633.1777
fax 202.357.3043
fax: 202.357.3043

>>> "Geoff Read" <g.read at niwa.co.nz> 04/05 5:31 PM >>>
Dear Annelida members,

Here is an extract from a posting on iczn list by Neal Evenhuis. It
concerns 
Diptera and the BMNH. I do not know if the same ever applied to BMNH 
Polychaeta. But it is a general warning that 'type' or 'syntype' put on a 
label by some museum's curator (perhaps even by the curator's junior 
assistant) should not be accepted uncritically.  Evenhuis is talking about

'lectotype by accident' where authors merely repeat label information that
may 
not be what it seems.   

=========== quote begin

The fact that the BMNH specimens had a red-ringed "Type" label on it
stemmed 
from WWII when the curators arbitrarily selected one specimen for each row
of 
syntypes as the "Type" and marked it with the red-ringed "Type" label.
These 
types were taken away from the museum for safety from bombing to a location
in 
the country. The remainder of the collection was also taken away from the 
museum for safety, but to a different location.   

After the war, the specimens were reunited at the BMNH but the "Type"
labels 
were not immediately removed. [They have been now for the Diptera (in the
last 
few years, though) and replaced with proper "Syntype" labels; but I have
heard 
that in other sections of the BMNH this still has not been done, lending 
itself to further accidental lectotype fixations.]   

When Hardy arrived in the early 1950s, what he saw at the BMNH were those 
arbitrarily selected "Type" specimens and not Holotypes or Lectotypes. His

dutiful mention of the label data and use of the words "Type in BMNH" has 
caused those species to have been accidentally selected as lectotypes."  

=========== quote ends


-- 
  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>
   http://www.annelida.net/ 


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