Species name and nonindingeous status

James T. Carlton jcarlton at williams.edu
Fri Jan 31 16:16:43 EST 2003

Hello everyone, 

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).  

Jim Carlton 
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 
T: 860-572-5359 
F: 860-572-5329 

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