Hopefully, if the criticisms are substantive, they will be published in a more permanent place than some blog.  Today's blog lines tomorrow's virtual birdcage.

Hi ECNers,

As Doug notes, if "more than half" of the 58% misidentifications are not actual misidentifications, then that means that, still, something like 25% of the specimens actually ARE misidentified.  (Or were.  One imagines that if Goodwin et al, have made the effort to note that the specimens are misidentified, they have also taken the time to correct those misidentifications).  Isn't that why we do revisions?

On a related digitization front, more than a decade after coming into existence, Catalog of Life still lists ten "species" of the nymphalid genus Agrias (there are four, according to Gerardo Lamas, and Agrias itself is now viewed as a junior synonym of Prepona) and some 109  Heliconius "species" (~45-50 valid species as far as I am aware).  (These two genera are my test cases - I suspect that all the other butterfly names are just as messy).  This confused nomenclature is based on the card catalog of available names from the British Museum, transcribed some years ago by Beccaloni et al, I believe, which somebody at ITIS erroneously decided were all valid names.  Thankfully, some of the CoL names are now indicated as "infraspecific" (not a term used in zoological nomenclature), but they are misleadingly listed as subspecies of invalid taxa, because things like "Heliconius aglaope" are listed as species.

 Are those names "wrong" or are they just names that "need to be updated"?  And if so, who is going to update them?  Hopefully someone who understands the ICZN Code.



Professor Andrew V. Z. Brower
Evolution and Ecology Group
Dept. of Biology
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro TN 37132 USA
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Doug Yanega <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 7:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Widespread mistaken identity in tropical plant collections (Goodwin et al. 2015)

This paper has already been thoroughly criticized:

Basically, Goodwin et al. claim that any IDed name which has become a synonym since the specimen was collected is now "wrong", or names which have subsequently otherwise become invalid, or which were typos. This accounts for at least half of what they are referring to, not actual errors in IDs. They also appear to have counted as "wrong" any IDs applied to species that they described as while doing their revision (and therefore unknown to the people who did the original ID), or not IDed to species at all. The title implies misidentifications, but much of their data set refers instead to correct IDs that need to be updated. Very misleading and alarmist, and potentially very damaging to the global museum community.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82