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Taxonomy: Species can be named from photos

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  • Natural History Museum of Denmark
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... does not stipulate this as a requirement, describing new taxa without a physical specimen is neither recommended nor practised by the majority of taxonomists. However, in a recent article that discussed the description of a new fly (Diptera) species (Marshall & Evenhuis 2015), Pape (2016) made a strong case for the use of photographs, without the need for a physical holotype in descriptions of new species, while simultaneously recognizing that museum specimens and nomenclatural stability are crucial to taxonomy. This viewpoint was swiftly rebutted by Krell (2016) and by Ceríaco et al. (2016). ...
... Still, these latest publications brought no obviously novel arguments to bear, as there was already an abundance of precedents for both sides in the literature (e.g. Collar 1999;Wakeham-Dawson et al. 2002;Dubois & Nemésio 2007;Donegan 2008Donegan , 2009Nemésio et al. 2009;Minteer et al. 2014;Amorim et al. 2016;Pape 2016Cianferoni & Bartolozzi 2016). The article by Ceríaco et al. (2016), however, broke several records: the number of authors (493) and the number of reads after just one week-10,000 at Research Gate alone, i.e. without taking the considerable discussion that the article generated on social networks into account. ...
... This amounts to a Hegelian dispute between thesis and antithesis, where both sides are simultaneously right and wrong, and both, to some extent, are justifiable. In this sense, the proposal of Ceríaco et al. (2016) advocating a less flexible Code makes sense only given the opposite tendency, evidenced by Marshall and Evenhuis (2015) and Pape (2016), and the fraught nomenclature reported by Kaiser et al. (2013). The ideal world, on the other hand, is arguably represented by Krell (2016), where the function of synthesis is not lost in the dialectical process. ...
Article
Full-text available
We discuss the philosophical tenets underpinning the current debate among taxonomists as to the need for a physical holotype in support of new species, or whether, as some scientists argue, photographs should be considered equally acceptable. At present, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature does not stipulate that the deposition of a physical specimen is required, but many taxonomists have recently called on the Commissioners of the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature to modify the text of the Code on these issues in its forthcoming, fifth edition. We discuss considerations that motivate both sides in this argument, all of which pertain to philosophical and historical issues: (1) misconceptions about science; (2) a fear of the loss of control over zoological nomenclature; and (3) the difficulty inherent in making the system developed by Linnaeus for a natural world originally perceived as static, compatible with the constantly shifting one outlined by Darwin and Wallace. In conclusion we argue that the best means to understand the question is rooted in a broader comprehension of the history of taxonomy and the kind of science it represents.
... Recently, Minteer and colleagues [6] highlighted the fact that the collection of voucher specimens can potentially exacerbate the conservation status of a species or contribute to its extinction, as has occurred with the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis; [7]) and Socorro Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi soccorroensis; [8]). Minteer and colleagues' opinion paper revived a long-lasting debate between those who defend the value of collections for taxonomy or other scientific purposes [9][10][11][12][13][14][15], and researchers advocating for alternative and innovating means for documenting life [16,17]. However, there remains a lack of empirical data to underpin these arguments from both sides. ...
... Taxonomy, systematics or natural history studies have relied on killing animals for centuries, and they still do nowadays despite innovative methods for biodiversity assessment [cf. 6,16,17]. In the case of the description of a new animal species, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature does not require the killing of an animal [1]. ...
... Advances in digital and molecular technologies, as well as open source sharing, render such specimens more redundant. As a general rule for future taxonomic and biodiversity inventories, we propose that the new technologies may be considered as a baseline while killing specimens could be used for verification purposes ([e.g., 16,52], but see [13:p435] "modern descriptions shouldn't be done without material evidence through at least one museum 'type' specimen, carrying many characters that cannot be seen on photographs"). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background to the work For centuries taxonomy has relied on dead animal specimens, a practice that persists today despite the emergence of innovative biodiversity assessment methods. Taxonomists and conservationists are engaged in vigorous discussions over the necessity of killing animals for specimen sampling, but quantitative data on taxonomic trends and specimen sampling over time, which could inform these debates, are lacking. Methods We interrogated a long-term research database documenting 2,723 land vertebrate and 419 invertebrate taxa from Madagascar, and their associated specimens conserved in the major natural history museums. We further compared specimen collection and species description rates for the birds, mammals and scorpions over the last two centuries, to identify trends and links to taxon descriptions. Results We located 15,364 specimens documenting endemic mammals and 11,666 specimens documenting endemic birds collected between 1820 and 2010. Most specimens were collected at the time of the Mission Zoologique Franco-Anglo-Américaine (MZFAA) in the 1930s and during the last two decades, with major differences according to the groups considered. The small mammal and bat collections date primarily from recent years, and are paralleled by the description of new species. Lemur specimens were collected during the MZFAA but the descriptions of new taxa are recent, with the type series limited to non-killed specimens. Bird specimens, particularly of non-passerines, are mainly from the time of the MZFAA. The passerines have also been intensely collected during the last two decades; the new material has been used to solve the phylogeny of the groups and only two new endemic taxa of passerine birds have been described over the last two decades. Conclusions Our data show that specimen collection has been critical for advancing our understanding of the taxonomy of Madagascar’s biodiversity at the onset of zoological work in Madagascar, but less so in recent decades. It is crucial to look for alternatives to avoid killing animals in the name of documenting life, and encourage all efforts to share the information attached to historical and recent collections held in natural history museums. In times of conservation crisis and the advancement in digital technologies and open source sharing, it seems obsolete to kill animals in well-known taxonomic groups for the sake of enriching natural history collections around the world.
... These facts seem to have been ignored by Marshall and Evenhuis (2015), Pape et al. (2016), Thorpe (2017), and Garraffoni and Freitas (2017), who recently published arguments in favour of regarding species-group names as available, as they are under the current (fourth) edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (hereinafter, the Code; ICZN 1999), in cases in which a preserved specimen has never been, at any time, in existence to serve as a holotype. These are only four examples of numerous published opinions of late, pro and con, on the desirability of doing this (e.g. ...
... Uncertainties with regard to such events are such that they cannot, in almost all cases, be sorted out, and expending efforts to do so would be absurd. The fact that such unavailable names are now being accepted as available in the literature -unaccountably with the support of some of the Commissioners of the ICZN (see Pape et al. 2016), and some names have been so treated for some timepresents serious problems for the stability and integrity of nomenclature. It is clear that the current language of the Code, coupled with the practice of naming animals without preserved specimens having been in existence at any time, has created an untenable situation. ...
... The current flurry of publications (both original research articles and in correspondence) dealing with the issue of new names without preserved types has no doubt called it to the attention of many zoologists who were previously unaware of the possibility and/or the unfortunate arguments being made in its favour (e.g. Donegan 2008, Marshall & Evenhuis 2015, Pape et al. 2016, Garraffoni & Freitas 2017, Thorpe 2017. It seems likely that this will result in a substantial increase in the percentage of new names published without preserved types, especially as the Anthropocene, with its increased rate of animals becoming endangered, will seem to make the arguments for releasing types into nature more compelling. ...
Article
Full-text available
The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature allows the naming of new species without a type specimen ever having been preserved. This practice causes problems and is undesirable because if related, cryptic, sibling species are encountered later, it may not be possible either to allocate them with certainty to the earlier named species, or to determine them to be something different. We hypothesised that examination of the instances in which mammalian species were named without preserved types would reveal certain problems that are not unique to them, but are encountered more frequently than when types are preserved. We also thought the Code's stipulation that preserved types are not required in the case of specimens that are no longer 'extant' would present special problems hitherto unremarked upon in the literature. We conducted a review of cases involving putative new species of mammal named since 1900. These were analysed to see what special problems they present and the frequency of such problems. We found that the Code's waiver of the requirement that a type specimen be deposited in a collection if the specimen is no longer extant presents numerous problems-in particular, that a living-at-large type specimen can still be 'extant' even if its whereabouts are unknown at certain times and/or it may no longer be alive. Illustrations alone being used to designate type specimens is especially problematic, owing to mammals' lack of meristic and other obvious distinguishing external characters. Hoaxes, the difficulty in determining that they are hoaxes, and various errors of taxonomic allocation appear to be especially common with names without preserved types. The Code should be revised to require preserved specimens as types for new names. Tissue samples alone for DNA analysis are not ideal for serving this purpose, but should be allowed to meet the requirement.
... There is a methodological debate, inevitably influenced by these economic considerations, on the modalities of the current inventory of living organisms, and some want to free themselves from the current rules for describing taxa, or propose interpretations of these modalities. One of these debates concerns the possibility of freeing oneself from the standard specimens (vouchers) for the descriptions of new taxa in order to allow, for example, the use of photographs to describe a new species (photography-based taxonomy [PBT]) (Pape 2016). After having briefly recalled (the debate is available on various media such as Researchgate 1 or a special issue of the journal Bionomina 2 ) the main dangers of these new temptations in taxonomy, we propose a new way of using photography in natura ("wild shot") for the constitution of digital collections of images, associated with collection specimens, and other media (sounds, videos) to improve the description of taxa, and especially to better describe the biology of the species and to understand their ecology. ...
... These authors recalled the need to keep specimens as name-bearers and as refutable scientific evidence in response to the intentions of a group of taxonomists who would have liked to base the description of taxa on photography-based taxonomy, as defended by Pape et al. (2016) or Garraffoni and Freitas (2017), that is, the possibility of describing species by using good quality photographs, without the need for specimen deposit. Garrouste (2009) and this image served as "evidence" of the observation of this entomophagous behavior while Triatominae are considered fairly strict Haematophagous vertebrates. ...
... Soon after the publication of this editorial, a short piece of correspondence from Thomas Pape of the Natural History Museum of Denmark was also published, in the September 15 issue of Nature. Pape's note was titled "Species can be named from photos" and it was in direct dispute with claim 2 above (Pape 2016). The author was supported by 34 signatories. ...
... Some confidently stated that ICZN rules have never required deposition of a voucher specimen prior to the naming of a new species (Wakeham-Dawson, Morris, & Tubbs 2002;Polaszek et al. 2005). The current President of the ICZN recently declared that species could be named just from photographs (Pape 2016), while another member of the commission urged against that practice (Krell 2016). Certain commentators have announced that members of the commission cannot speak officially for the commission outside of the published text of the rules themselves (Dubois & Nemésio 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
Scientists have been arguing for more than twenty-five years about whether it is a good idea to collect voucher specimens from particularly vulnerable biological populations. Some think that, obviously, scientists should not be harvesting (read: killing) organisms from, for instance, critically endangered species. Others think that, obviously, it is the special job of scientists to collect precisely such information before any chance of retrieving it is forever lost. The character, extent, longevity, and span of the ongoing disagreement indicates that this is likely to be a hard problem to solve. Nonetheless, the aim of this paper is to help field biologists figure out what do to when collecting a voucher specimen risks extinction. Here I present and assess varying practices of specimen collection for both extant (i.e., neontological) and extinct (i.e., paleontological) species in order to compare and contrast cases where extinction risk both is and is not a problem. When it comes to taking vouchers from extant species at some risk of extinction, I determine that those advocating for conservative approaches to collection as well as those advocating for liberal information-gathering practices have good reasons to assess things in the way they each do. This means that there is unlikely to be a decisive, one-size-fits-all response to this problem. Still, progress can be made. We can acknowledge the risks of proceeding in either manner, as well as the uncertainty about how best to proceed (which will be deep in some cases). We can proceed as thoughtfully as possible, and be ready to articulate a rationale for whichever procedure is used in any particular case.
... THE 2015 PUBLICATION of a photographybased description of a new fly species (1) kicked off a debate in the scientific community: Must a new species description include a specimen deposited in a museum, or is a photograph sufficient (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)? A large group of taxonomists advocate including at least one specimen (2,4,6), based on an interpretation of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (7). ...
... A large group of taxonomists advocate including at least one specimen (2,4,6), based on an interpretation of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (7). Meanwhile, a growing number of scientists argue that, in special circumstances, some taxa can be described without preserved specimens (1,5). So far, the debate has focused on taxonomical groups for which it is easy to justify requiring a preserved specimen. ...
... THE 2015 PUBLICATION of a photographybased description of a new fly species (1) kicked off a debate in the scientific community: Must a new species description include a specimen deposited in a museum, or is a photograph sufficient (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)? A large group of taxonomists advocate including at least one specimen (2,4,6), based on an interpretation of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (7). ...
... A large group of taxonomists advocate including at least one specimen (2,4,6), based on an interpretation of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (7). Meanwhile, a growing number of scientists argue that, in special circumstances, some taxa can be described without preserved specimens (1,5). So far, the debate has focused on taxonomical groups for which it is easy to justify requiring a preserved specimen. ...
Article
Full-text available
R. Stone's In Depth News story “Dambuilding threatens Mekong fisheries” (2 December, p. [1084][1]) explains why the scores of dams planned for the Mekong River are likely to have major impacts on eight of the world's largest freshwater fishes, all of which are already at risk of extinction.
... Il existe un débat méthodologique, forcément empreint de ces considérations économiques, sur les modalités de l'inventaire du vivant en cours, et certains veulent s'affranchir des règles en cours de descriptions des Exemplaire réservé à Claude Yéprémian 274 Les collections dans la science du XXI e siècle taxons, ou proposent des interprétations de ces modalités. L'un de ces débats concerne la possibilité de s'affranchir des spécimens-types (vouchers) pour les descriptions des nouveaux taxons afin de permettre par exemple l'utilisation de photographies pour décrire une nouvelle espèce (taxonomie basée sur la photographie ou photographybased taxonomy -PBT) (Pape 2016). Après avoir rappelé succinctement (le débat est disponible sur divers médias comme Researchgate 1 ou un numéro spécial de la revue Bionomina 2 ) les principaux dangers de ces nouvelles tentations en taxonomie, nous proposons une nouvelle façon d'utiliser la photographie in natura (« wild shot ») pour la constitution de collections numériques d'images, associées à des spécimens de collection, et d'autres médias (sons, vidéos) pour améliorer la description des taxons, et surtout mieux décrire la biologie des espèces et comprendre leur écologie. ...
... Nous n'allons pas refaire ce débat qui, via les revues de taxonomie, voit s'affronter des avis plus ou moins tranchés. Récemment, une correspondance à Zootaxa (Ceríaco et al. 2016) Ces auteurs rappelaient la nécessité de conserver des spécimens comme porteurs de nom et comme preuve scientifique réfutable en réponse aux intentions d'un groupe de taxonomistes qui auraient souhaité baser la description de taxons sur la photographie (photography-based taxonomy), telle que défendue par Pape et al. (2016) ou encore Garraffoni et Freitas (2017), c'est-à-dire la possibilité de décrire des espèces par des photographies de bonne qualité, sans nécessité de dépôt de spécimen. L'une des raisons de cette défense farouche de cette méthode inhabituelle réside à la fois dans l'urgence de la description du vivant, les réglementations de plus en plus strictes pour la collecte d'échantillons (renforcées récemment par le protocole de Nagoya), la raréfaction de certaines espèces -y compris non encore décrites -et le faible effectif de certains organismes (mammifères, oiseaux et autres vertébrés) rares et en danger. ...
Chapter
The “cyanobacteria and microalgae” collection of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle includes, respectively, 870 and 890 living strains maintained in the laboratory. This collection supports fundamental research, particularly in taxonomy and ecophysiology, but also numerous activities for the development of bioactive molecules and expertise in environmental diagnosis. These different activities benefit from the emergence of high‐throughput “‐omics” approaches, which now offer new possibilities to enable such a collection to respond to the current challenges of both fundamental and targeted research, and of the conservation of biological resources. The conservation of organisms in living collections allows us to explore their biological properties. Among these, the production of bioactive metabolites is a rapidly developing theme. The “cyanobacteria and microalgae” collection is a reference collection for environmental diagnosis.
... Every item of data associated with an occurrence (be either an unvouchered observation or a specimen) is an additional evidence to fight against one or several of the seven currently identified biodiversity shortfalls (Hortal et al. 2015). The Linnean shortfall, the gap between the described species and the actual number of species, undoubtedly requires specimen collection (Ceríaco et al. 2016;Dubois 2017;Pine and Gutiérrez 2018;2018 TROUDET ET AL.-SHIFT IN PRIMARY BIODIVERSITY DATA 3 see Pape et al. 2016 for an opposite opinion). But other shortfalls could be filled, in certain cases, as efficiently with samples or pictures than with specimens. ...
... The importance of collecting specimens in taxonomy, evolution and ecology cannot be overemphasized (Huber 1998;Schilthuizen et al. 2015) and two main points, previously discussed in the literature, must be reiterated. First, specimens are needed for species description and for the study of biodiversity in general (Krell and Wheeler 2014;Rocha et al. 2014;Ceríaco et al. 2016;Dubois 2017;Gutiérrez and Pine 2017;Gutiérrez 2018 contra Minteer et al. 2014;Marshall and Evenhuis 2015;Pape et al. 2016). A crucial argument is the utility of specimens for checking species identification. ...
Article
Primary biodiversity data represent the fundamental elements of any study in systematics and evolution. They are, however, no longer gathered as they used to be and the mass-production of observation-based occurrences is overthrowing the collection of specimen-based occurrences. Although this change in practice is a major upheaval with significant consequences in the study of biodiversity, it remains understudied and has not attracted yet the attention it deserves. Analyzing 536 million occurrences from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) mediated data, we show that this spectacular change affects the 24 eukaryote taxonomic classes we targeted: from 1970 to 2016 the proportion of occurrences marked as traceable to tangible material (i.e. specimen-based occurrences) fell from 68 to 18%; moreover, most of those specimen based-occurrences cannot be readily traced back to a specimen because the necessary information is missing. Ethical, practical or legal reasons responsible for this shift are known, and this situation appears unlikely to be reversed. Still, we urge scholars to acknowledge this dramatic change, embrace it and actively deal with it. Specifically, we emphasize why specimen-based occurrences must be gathered, as a warrant to allow both repeating evolutionary studies and conducting rich and diverse investigations. When impossible to secure, voucher specimens must be replaced with observation-based occurrences combined with ancillary data (e.g. pictures, recordings, samples, DNA sequences). Ancillary data are instrumental for the usefulness of biodiversity occurrences and we show that, despite improving technologies to collate them, they remain rarely shared. The consequences of such a change are not yet clear but we advocate collecting material evidence or ancillary data to ensure that primary biodiversity data collected lately do not partly become obsolete when doubtful.
... There is a methodological debate, inevitably influenced by these economic considerations, on the modalities of the current inventory of living organisms, and some want to free themselves from the current rules for describing taxa, or propose interpretations of these modalities. One of these debates concerns the possibility of freeing oneself from the standard specimens (vouchers) for the descriptions of new taxa in order to allow, for example, the use of photographs to describe a new species (photography-based taxonomy [PBT]) (Pape 2016). After having briefly recalled (the debate is available on various media such as Researchgate 1 or a special issue of the journal Bionomina 2 ) the main dangers of these new temptations in taxonomy, we propose a new way of using photography in natura ("wild shot") for the constitution of digital collections of images, associated with collection specimens, and other media (sounds, videos) to improve the description of taxa, and especially to better describe the biology of the species and to understand their ecology. ...
... These authors recalled the need to keep specimens as name-bearers and as refutable scientific evidence in response to the intentions of a group of taxonomists who would have liked to base the description of taxa on photography-based taxonomy, as defended by Pape et al. (2016) or Garraffoni and Freitas (2017), that is, the possibility of describing species by using good quality photographs, without the need for specimen deposit. Garrouste (2009) and this image served as "evidence" of the observation of this entomophagous behavior while Triatominae are considered fairly strict Haematophagous vertebrates. ...
Chapter
This chapter assesses the feasibility of using natural history collections to trace temporal changes in species distribution and community composition using the example of macroalgae that are preserved as herbaria. The preservation of plants in herbaria began during the Renaissance. This technique required paper and became widespread in the 18th century thanks to technical advances in paper production. Plant classifications have been developed on the basis of the diversity of forms of reproductive organs. The algal herbarium of the Dinard maritime laboratory has been recently transferred to the Herbier national du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle de Paris in the cryptogamy section. It is possible to explore temporal changes in species distribution from collections under certain conditions, either by using only the observations or by using those observations to model species distribution. Algal community composition and species distribution are being impacted by global change and in particular by increasing seawater temperatures and heat waves.
... Il existe un débat méthodologique, forcément empreint de ces considérations économiques, sur les modalités de l'inventaire du vivant en cours, et certains veulent s'affranchir des règles en cours de descriptions des Exemplaire réservé à Lionel Gagnevin 274 Les collections dans la science du XXI e siècle taxons, ou proposent des interprétations de ces modalités. L'un de ces débats concerne la possibilité de s'affranchir des spécimens-types (vouchers) pour les descriptions des nouveaux taxons afin de permettre par exemple l'utilisation de photographies pour décrire une nouvelle espèce (taxonomie basée sur la photographie ou photographybased taxonomy -PBT) (Pape 2016). Après avoir rappelé succinctement (le débat est disponible sur divers médias comme Researchgate 1 ou un numéro spécial de la revue Bionomina 2 ) les principaux dangers de ces nouvelles tentations en taxonomie, nous proposons une nouvelle façon d'utiliser la photographie in natura (« wild shot ») pour la constitution de collections numériques d'images, associées à des spécimens de collection, et d'autres médias (sons, vidéos) pour améliorer la description des taxons, et surtout mieux décrire la biologie des espèces et comprendre leur écologie. ...
... Nous n'allons pas refaire ce débat qui, via les revues de taxonomie, voit s'affronter des avis plus ou moins tranchés. Récemment, une correspondance à Zootaxa (Ceríaco et al. 2016) Ces auteurs rappelaient la nécessité de conserver des spécimens comme porteurs de nom et comme preuve scientifique réfutable en réponse aux intentions d'un groupe de taxonomistes qui auraient souhaité baser la description de taxons sur la photographie (photography-based taxonomy), telle que défendue par Pape et al. (2016) ou encore Garraffoni et Freitas (2017), c'est-à-dire la possibilité de décrire des espèces par des photographies de bonne qualité, sans nécessité de dépôt de spécimen. L'une des raisons de cette défense farouche de cette méthode inhabituelle réside à la fois dans l'urgence de la description du vivant, les réglementations de plus en plus strictes pour la collecte d'échantillons (renforcées récemment par le protocole de Nagoya), la raréfaction de certaines espèces -y compris non encore décrites -et le faible effectif de certains organismes (mammifères, oiseaux et autres vertébrés) rares et en danger. ...
Chapter
Les collections naturalistes ont désormais acquis une place inédite dans la recherche scientifique. Constituées à l’origine par la systématique et la taxonomie, elles se révèlent aujourd’hui fondamentales pour répondre à diverses questions scientifiques et sociétales, aussi importantes qu’actuelles.Les collections naturalistes dans la science du XXIe siècle présente un vaste échantillon de questions et de réponses suscitées par l’étude des différentes collections. Les milliards de spécimens récoltés pendant plus de deux siècles sur l’ensemble de la planète nous offrent des informations capitales pour notre quête de connaissances sur la Terre, l’Univers, la diversité du vivant et l’histoire de l’humanité.Les collections apportent également de précieux points de référence dans le passé pour comprendre la nature et la dynamique des changements globaux d’aujourd’hui. Leur permanence matérielle est la meilleure garantie de retour aux données et aux sources des informations dans le cadre de la science ouverte.
... Il existe un débat méthodologique, forcément empreint de ces considérations économiques, sur les modalités de l'inventaire du vivant en cours, et certains veulent s'affranchir des règles en cours de descriptions des Exemplaire réservé à Marine Robuchon 274 Les collections dans la science du XXI e siècle taxons, ou proposent des interprétations de ces modalités. L'un de ces débats concerne la possibilité de s'affranchir des spécimens-types (vouchers) pour les descriptions des nouveaux taxons afin de permettre par exemple l'utilisation de photographies pour décrire une nouvelle espèce (taxonomie basée sur la photographie ou photographybased taxonomy -PBT) (Pape 2016). Après avoir rappelé succinctement (le débat est disponible sur divers médias comme Researchgate 1 ou un numéro spécial de la revue Bionomina 2 ) les principaux dangers de ces nouvelles tentations en taxonomie, nous proposons une nouvelle façon d'utiliser la photographie in natura (« wild shot ») pour la constitution de collections numériques d'images, associées à des spécimens de collection, et d'autres médias (sons, vidéos) pour améliorer la description des taxons, et surtout mieux décrire la biologie des espèces et comprendre leur écologie. ...
... Nous n'allons pas refaire ce débat qui, via les revues de taxonomie, voit s'affronter des avis plus ou moins tranchés. Récemment, une correspondance à Zootaxa (Ceríaco et al. 2016) Ces auteurs rappelaient la nécessité de conserver des spécimens comme porteurs de nom et comme preuve scientifique réfutable en réponse aux intentions d'un groupe de taxonomistes qui auraient souhaité baser la description de taxons sur la photographie (photography-based taxonomy), telle que défendue par Pape et al. (2016) ou encore Garraffoni et Freitas (2017), c'est-à-dire la possibilité de décrire des espèces par des photographies de bonne qualité, sans nécessité de dépôt de spécimen. L'une des raisons de cette défense farouche de cette méthode inhabituelle réside à la fois dans l'urgence de la description du vivant, les réglementations de plus en plus strictes pour la collecte d'échantillons (renforcées récemment par le protocole de Nagoya), la raréfaction de certaines espèces -y compris non encore décrites -et le faible effectif de certains organismes (mammifères, oiseaux et autres vertébrés) rares et en danger. ...
Chapter
Les collections naturalistes ont désormais acquis une place inédite dans la recherche scientifique. Constituées à l’origine par la systématique et la taxonomie, elles se révèlent aujourd’hui fondamentales pour répondre à diverses questions scientifiques et sociétales, aussi importantes qu’actuelles.Les collections naturalistes dans la science du XXIe siècle présente un vaste échantillon de questions et de réponses suscitées par l’étude des différentes collections. Les milliards de spécimens récoltés pendant plus de deux siècles sur l’ensemble de la planète nous offrent des informations capitales pour notre quête de connaissances sur la Terre, l’Univers, la diversité du vivant et l’histoire de l’humanité.Les collections apportent également de précieux points de référence dans le passé pour comprendre la nature et la dynamique des changements globaux d’aujourd’hui. Leur permanence matérielle est la meilleure garantie de retour aux données et aux sources des informations dans le cadre de la science ouverte.
... Similar brands of taxonomic naïvete have manifested elsewhere, as in recent debates over wisdom of taxonomic descriptions using photographs as "types." (Garraffoni and Freitas, 2017; see also Amorim et al., 2016, Ceríaco et al., 2016, Pape, 2016. Although hailed as a possible solution to the taxonomic impediment, DNA barcoding performed uncritically risks the encumbrance of subsequent efforts and defeats its own purpose. ...
Article
Full-text available
Interpretations and analytical practices surrounding DNA barcoding are examined using a compilation of 3,756 papers (as of December 31, 2018) with “DNA Barcode” in the abstract published since 2004. By examining the rise of DNA barcoding in natural history and biodiversity science over this period, we hope to detect the extent to which its purposes, premises, rationale and application have evolved. The number of studies involving identification, taxonomic decisions and the discovery of cryptic species has grown rapidly and appears to have driven much of the publication activity of DNA barcode studies overall. Forensic studies and papers on biological conservation involving DNA barcodes have loosely tracked the ensemble number of studies but appear to have risen sharply in 2017. Although analytical paradigms have diversified, particularly following the growing availability of tools in BoLD, neighbor-joining and graphic (tree-based) criteria for species delimitation remain preeminent. We conclude that the practices and paradigms of DNA barcoding data are likely to persist and, in groups such as Lepidoptera, remain a widely used tool in taxonomic science.
... One such effort is the digitization of the vast quantities of specimens in the collections (Mathys et al. 2013;Mathys et al. 2015). Although controversy exists when describing species using photographic material exclusively (e.g., Pape (2016) and Ceriaco et al. (2016) in response), a photographic inventory of collections adds to documenting biodiversity, increases accessibility for other researchers and instances, adds to increased ecological knowledge, and helps experts and students screen specimens in an affordable way (Beaman and Cellinese 2012;Garrouste 2017). ...
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Digitization of specimen collections has become a key priority of many natural history museums. The camera systems built for this purpose are expensive, providing a barrier in institutes with limited funding, and therefore hampering progress. An assessment is made on whether a low cost compact camera with image stacking functionality can help expedite the digitization process in large museums or provide smaller institutes and amateur entomologists with the means to digitize their collections. Images of a professional setup were compared with the Olympus Stylus TG-4 Tough, a low-cost compact camera with internal focus stacking functions. Parameters considered include image quality, digitization speed, price, and ease-of-use. The compact camera’s image quality, although inferior to the professional setup, is exceptional considering its fourfold lower price point. Producing the image slices in the compact camera is a matter of seconds and when optimal image quality is less of a priority, the internal stacking function omits the need for dedicated stacking software altogether, further decreasing the cost and speeding up the process. In general, it is found that, aware of its limitations, this compact camera is capable of digitizing entomological collections with sufficient quality. As technology advances, more institutes and amateur entomologists will be able to easily and affordably catalogue their specimens.
... In defense of a species description without preserved specimens, a few colleagues recently provided arguments that could lead to widespread use of photography-based taxonomy (PBT) (Pape et al. 2016). We 493 collection-based researchers refute these arguments. ...
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The question whether taxonomic descriptions naming new animal species without type specimen(s) deposited in collections should be accepted for publication by scientific journals and allowed by the Code has already been discussed in Zootaxa (Dubois & Nemésio 2007; Donegan 2008, 2009; Nemésio 2009a–b; Dubois 2009; Gentile & Snell 2009; Minelli 2009; Cianferoni & Bartolozzi 2016; Amorim et al. 2016). This question was again raised in a letter supported by 35 signatories published in the journal Nature (Pape et al. 2016) on 15 September 2016. On 25 September 2016, the following rebuttal (strictly limited to 300 words as per the editorial rules of Nature) was submitted to Nature, which on 18 October 2016 refused to publish it. As we think this problem is a very important one for zoological taxonomy, this text is published here exactly as submitted to Nature, followed by the list of the 493 taxonomists and collection-based researchers who signed it in the short time span from 20 September to 6 October 2016.
... A recent series of papers, and rebuttals, regarding Photography-based taxonomy (PBT) (Pape et al. 2016, Krell et al. 2016, Ceríaco et al. 2016, Thorpe 2017) has raised much controversy and discussion about the practice of describing new species without preserved type specimens. Although there has been thoughtful discussion upon this issue, there is still much misunderstanding, especially regarding the idea of changing parts of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN 1999) to regulate this practice. ...
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A recent series of papers, and rebuttals, regarding Photography-based taxonomy (PBT) (Pape et al. 2016, Krell et al. 2016, Ceríaco et al. 2016, Thorpe 2017) has raised much controversy and discussion about the practice of describing new species without preserved type specimens. Although there has been thoughtful discussion upon this issue, there is still much misunderstanding, especially regarding the idea of changing parts of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN 1999) to regulate this practice.
... And very recently, it has been argued that species descriptions and taxonomic name availability should be possible using a foundation that is limited to digital pictures ( Minteer et al. 2014;Marshall & Evenhuis 2015). All these issues have provoked considerable controversies between two groups of scientists that could be tentatively grouped as modern versus old-fashioned scientists or as careless versus serious scientists, depending on which side the observer feels closest to ( Rocha et al. 2014;Pape 2016;Ceríaco et al. 2016). However, even if all these contributions disagree on how to use virtual data, they all share a common opinion that this trend can be explained by the development of the digital techniques that make everything virtual, including scientific data. ...
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The original efforts of early naturalists are now placed in another context. Instead of adding lots of particulars to a catalogue of Life, the idea is now to contribute to an organized picture: comparative biology and general biology have merged. Systematics or the related sciences of Biodiversity employ a reasoning analogous to the one followed by early general biology when it separated from natural history and activities associated with collections in the early XXth century. There is a presumption one is already knowledgeable about laws or general patterns when studying biological processes or adding species: both contribute to the general picture. As a consequence of this state of mind, many authors do not feel the need for saving specimens. However, saving specimens is not only a way to keep records in a world which is still being discovered, it is also a very efficient way to store information and to allow one to return to the original specimens, thus generating additional data to answer other questions. We must be fully aware of both the rationale but also the present-day state of mind, in order to keep our motivation in the pursuit of an adequate sampling of Biodiversity.
... Not surprisingly, the species has not been cited in the literature for a long time, and it has remained an enigma for ichthyologists. Recently, the description of a new species of Diptera (Marshall, Evenhuis, 2015) that designated a photo as the holotype has triggered the discussion of whether preserved specimens are needed for species descriptions (Amorim et al., 2016;Pape, 2016;Krell, 2016;Ceríaco et al., 2016). Deuterodon pedri provides a sound argument for the importance and utility of preserved types in this discussion. ...
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Accurate identification is essential for any study exploring biodiversity. Unfortunately, museum type specimens preserved for more than a hundred years are often not informative enough for precise identification of the species represented by the name-bearing type. The use of ancient DNA can help solve taxonomic problems when name-bearing types no longer have diagnostic morphological features that allow for an accurate identification of the species involved. That is the case for Deuterodon pedri, an endemic species from a small drainage in the rio Doce basin in Minas Gerais, Brazil, for which the type material is in poor condition. Specimens of D. pedri were collected in 1865 by the Thayer Expedition to Brazil and fixed in spirits, enabling them to yield viable DNA. As the morphology alone of the type material does not allow for an accurate identification, we used both morphological and ancient DNA (aDNA) methods to decisively establish the identity of D. pedri. This identification allowed us to recognize the species among recently collected specimens and then, based on them, redescribe the species. A genetype for the lectotype of D. pedri is presented.
... Even if one does return to a locality, it might look quite different and much of the biodiversity might be absent (Coloma et al., 2007;Coloma et al., 2010). Recent claims by some colleagues that biological collection should be avoided, or minimized, is extremely prejudicial to taxonomy (Minteer et al., 2014;Pape, 2016;Gutiérrez and Pine, 2017). As an example, the majority of the specimens of A. embera sp. ...
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We describe and name a new species of Alopoglossus (Gymnophthalmoidea: Alopoglossidae) from western Colombia (Departamentos Cauca and Valle del Cauca: Chocó biodiversity hotspot). The new taxon is morphologically similar to Alopoglossus festae and A. viridis, from which it differs in having, among other things: strongly keeled imbricated temporal scales; strongly keeled scales on dorsum of hand; rhomboid, keeled, and heavily pigmented ventral scales. Specimens of this new taxon have been sitting in museum shelves for several decades (holotype collected over 40 years ago)—thus, we discuss the relevance of biological specimen collection and the importance of reexamination of old museum records, in search of unnamed biodiversity.
... This draconian rule suggestion has been vigorously resisted by some, with the primary argument being that taxonomists should be the individuals who are best in position to determine the extent to which photographic evidence is sufficient for a given taxonomic problem (Donegan 2008). Nevertheless, the controversy has persisted with many arguing that photographs should never be employed as type specimens (Duboi et al. 2013, Ceríaco et al. 2016, Cianferoni & Bartolozzi 2016, but others recognizing that in certain, infrequent cases that the practice is justified (Marshall & Evenhuis 2015, Pape 2016, Krell & Marshall 2017, Shatalkin & Galinskaya 2017. ICZN has recently taken up the issue in their "Declaration 45" (International Code of Zoological Nomenclature 2017) reiterating that preserved types should be the basis for new species whenever feasible, but stating clearly that the IZCN Code does permit new species to be based upon photographic evidence when "justified by special circumstances, such as when capture or preservation of specimens is not feasible for technical reasons or for conservation concerns, or when specimens must be destroyed to reliably diagnose a new species." ...
Article
On April 10, 2015, three individuals of an undescribed species of ctenophore were observed moving just above the seafloor in the Arecibo Amphitheater inside the Guajataca Canyon, north-northwest of Puerto Rico at a depth of approximately 3,900 m. The ctenophore is distinctive; having two prominent tentacle arms, a body that is rectangular when observed laterally along the tentacular plane, and rounded when observed laterally along the stomodeal plane. The tentacle arms each give rise to an extensible tentacle bearing short tentilla of uniform length and distribution. One ctenophore appeared to be anchored to the seafloor by its two long flexible tentacles, as well as by two filaments exiting its oral end. The overall form of the ctenophore suggests classification within the problematic, non-monophyletic order Cydippida, but the robust tentacle arms are more reminiscent of benthic species of Platyctenida, particularly those of families Lyroctenidae and Ctenoplanidae. Whereas most platyctenid ctenophores do not possess ctene rows in their adult forms, features that are possessed by the new species described herein, species of Ctenoplanidae retain comb rows as adults and are capable of limited swimming. The species described herein is easily distinguishable from all other known species of Ctenophora and may trace its origin to a lineage diverging near the origin of Platyctenida.
... 2 度 目 の 改 正 は,2012 年 に 行 わ れ(International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2012a, b) , 同年 9 月 4 日より発効し,同様の内容が 9 月 30 日付 けの動物命名法紀要においても公表された(Interna- tional Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2012c) . な お, こ の 改 正 は 同 年 1 月 1 日 に さ か の ぼって効力をもつ(International Commission on Zoo- logical Nomenclature, 2012a, b, c) . こ の 改 正 で は, 光学ディスクによる公表が認められなくなったほ か,電子出版のみによる公表が認められるなど,公 表の要件が大きく変更された.詳細は野田・西川 (2013)による日本語訳と解説を参照されたい. 布告書 45 による今回の改正はしたがって,3 度目 の改正となる.今回は,保存されていない標本を担 名タイプとして指定することに関して,4 つの勧告 が追加され,用語集に"保存された標本"という項 目が加わった.上述のように,布告書による改正は 暫定的なものである(条 80.1) . 改正内容 1) 以下の勧告を追加する. a) 勧告 73G.保存されていない標本を担名タイプ として指定する明確な理由.なぜ保存された標 本が 1 つも,それが完全な生物 1 個体であるか あるいはそのような 1 個体の一部であるかに関 わらず,その新しいタクソンの担名タイプとし て用いられないのか,また,なぜ保存された担 名タイプが 1 つも入手できない時点でそのタク ソンの正式な命名が必要なのか,詳しい理由を 述べるべきである. b) 勧告 73H.しかるべき配慮の表明.保存された 担名タイプなしに新しい種階級群タクソンを設 立するときは,その新しいタクソンの物的な標 本を捕獲し,保存するためにとられた手段につ いて,および,自然史コレクション中に存在す る保存された標本を探し出すためにとられた手 段についての両方またはどちらか一方を,詳し く記述すべきである. c) 勧告 73I.専門家との協議.保存されていない 標本を担名タイプとして指定する前に,問題の 群の専門家と協議すべきである. d) 勧告 73J.包括的な図像および測定結果.保存さ れた担名タイプなしに新しい種階級群タクソン を設立するときは,潜在的な識別形質の広範な 記述(例えば,複数の高解像度元画像,DNA 配 列など)を可能な限り完全に提供すべきである. 2) 用語集の見出し語"標本"の下に,以下の項目 を追加する. ※下線を付した語は,国際動物命名規約第 4 版日本 語版(動物命名法国際審議会,2000)の用語集にお Jäger, 2016;Krell, 2016;Marshall and Evenhuis, 2016;Pape, 2016;Santos et al., 2016;Aguiar et al., 2017;Faúndez, 2017;Garraffoni and Freitas, 2017;Grandcolas, 2017;Raposo and Kirwan, 2017Photography-based taxonomy is inadequate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful for biological sciences. ...
Article
This paper summarizes the previous amendments of the 4th edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and presents the Japanese version of the latest provisional amendment and the explanatory note published by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in March 2017. In the latest provisional amendment, four recommendations were added to Article 73 and one term, “specimen, preserved”, was added to the Glossary concerning the establishment of a new species-group taxon without a preserved name-bearing type. Additionally, we review the background of this provisional amendment. All zoologists should pay careful attention to this amendment in order to advance zoological sciences and their reproducibility.
... This postulated method of depositing photomicrographs instead of holotypes and paratypes is nothing new for those organisms prone to damage or those where fixation methods are insufficient, and the advantages and disadvantages of this approach have been considered oftentimes (Frizzell 1933;Corliss 1962). However, shortly after the Marshall and Evenhuis (2015) publication, systematic biologists divided into two groups, either advocating (Pape et al. 2016;Garraffoni and Freitas 2017;Krell andMarshall 2017), or refusing (Amorim et al. 2016;Ceríaco et al. 2016;Santos et al. 2016;Dubois 2017;Gutiérrez and Pine 2017;Rogers et al. 2017) the assignment of a scientific name to a new taxon without a physical type-specimen. Besides the taxonomic bias (most authors and signatories against the PBT are specialists on vertebrates and arthropods-easily preservable taxa), the division among taxonomists was caused by differing interpretations of the nomenclatural and taxonomic functions of a type-specimen (Dubois 2005(Dubois , 2017. ...
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Although ICZN Declaration 45 already shed some light to the issue regarding “typeless species descriptions,” we here explore the assignment of new species-group taxa in the absence of a physical type-specimen in more detail. The focus is on taxonomical studies of so-called soft-bodied meiofaunal organisms, in which a deposition of physical type specimens is frequently either not possible or even not advisable at all, because they are often lost before their formal designation as a name-bearing type. We emphasize some arguments and recommendations concerning photomicrography-based taxonomy on these delicate organisms. Furthermore, we discuss the designation of illustrations as nomenclatural types in the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, a practice that is applied for some time now and without any noticeable drawbacks regarding the quality of taxonomic acts.
... We agree about the need for efficient and quick methods for describing species (which can sometimes even be named from photos [29]), yet we advocate that integrative and multidisciplinary research may represent one of the most sustainable approaches linking various disciplines and offering a large spectrum of useful information for different fields of biosystematics. The 3D image data of the millipede Ommatoiulus avatar [1] were for example recently retrieved and used in a study on the taxonomic value of the vulva in millipedes of the family Julidae [30] and on the evaluation of the musculo-skeletal system of the diplopod head [31]. ...
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We present high-resolution X-ray microtomography (microCT) to enhance the standard morphological description of a recently described centipede, Eupolybothrus liburnicus Akkari, Komerički, Weigand, Edgecombe and Stoev, 2017. The 3D images of the holotype and paratype specimens are considered here as cybertypes for the species–a universal and virtual representation of the type material. This ‘avatar’ of the holotype is the first published male centipede cybertype. The microtomographic data of both types revealed further characters of systematic value and allowed us to hypothesise on the function of some of the male secondary structures and the mating behaviour of the species. Additionally, we compared part of the female reproductive system of E. liburnicus to species from the same genus, including E. cavernicolus Stoev & Komerički 2013, its closest congener. The high-resolution 3D image data have been uploaded to an open repository (MorphoSource.org) to serve in any subsequent study on the species and genus, as we believe this would catalyse biosystematic research on this and other arthropod groups.
... Conflicting opinions in the literature regarding photograph-based taxonomy are noted. Basically, one research line favours the use of photographs as an efficient tool for taxa description and characterization (Pape et al., 2016), while another argues that this would be an inadequate and potentially harmful process to the biological sciences (Ceríaco et al., 2016). In particular, we agree with the latter. ...
... El uso de los registros fotográficos en la taxonomía es un tópico fuertemente discutido en la comunidad científica (Pape et al. 2016;Krell et al. 2016;Ceríaco et al. 2016;Thorpe 2017;Faúndez 2017). Uno de los principales impedimentos para la identificación de arañas a través de fotografías es que la mayoría de los caracteres diagnósticos de las especies son de la morfología genital y no son observables en las fotografías convencionales, por lo cual el uso de las fotografías para la identificación de especies de arañas no es adecuado. ...
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Resumen. Aglaoctenus Tullgren, 1905 es un género de arañas sudamericanas perteneciente a la familia Lycosidae, del cual se conocen cinco especies. Se reporta por primera vez su presencia en Chile, donde en febrero de 2018 se registraron ejemplares de la especie Aglaoctenus puyen Piacentini, 2011 en un ambiente altoandino. Se observaron y fotografiaron un macho y una hembra cargando sus crías en el abdomen, en un faldeo occidental del cerro Tronador, dentro del Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, en la Región de Los Lagos. Se aportan datos y fotos que revelan hábitos de esta especie recientemente descrita y poco conocida. Estos hallazgos resaltan la necesidad de realizar relevamientos en otras localidades al este y al oeste de los Andes, en busca de esta especie. Palabras clave: Aglaoctenus puyen, ambiente altoandino, araña lobo, cuidado de crías, Región de Los Lagos. Abstract. Aglaoctenus Tullgren, 1905 is a genus of South American spiders that belong to the Lycosidae family, of which five species are known. We report by the first time its presence in Chile, based on specimens of Aglaoctenus puyen Piacentini, 2011 that were observed in highlands of the Andes, in February 2018. A male, and a female carrying spiderlings on her abdomen, were recorded and photographed in a West slope of Tronador mount, at Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, in Los Lagos Region. We present data and pictures that reveal undocumented habits of this recently described species. These findings highlight the need of exploration efforts in other localities East and West of the Andean Range.
... We wish to emphasize that the approach we advocate herein in no way negates the need to maintain and make accessible physical specimens in a collection. Although in rare cases where the lack of specimens is unavoidable (e.g., Marshall and Evenhuis 2015;Pape et al. 2016), there is no replacement for examining a well-preserved specimen. Our method should be regarded as an ancillary technique, useful when it is necessary to obtain preliminary data or when it is not possible to examine the specimen in person, and for archival purposes. ...
... Critics of collecting suggest that nonlethal, or less invasive, sampling techniques and new technologies (e.g., digital cameras and remote tracking devices) are viable alternatives to preserving whole specimens (Marshall and Evenhuis 2015;Pape 2016). Observational techniques alone, however, fail to capture the breadth of data (e.g., morphology, parasites), diverse perspectives (e.g., tissue-specific responses), and natural integration across diverse disciplines possible when compared to holistic specimens, which can provide a variety of samples to multiple, independent studies (i.e., skin and skeletal materials, multiple tissues, endo-and ectoparasites, microbiomes, etc. -Bi et al. 2013;Rocha et al. 2014;Holmes et al. 2016). ...
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Natural history collections have stimulated insights into systematics and evolution, but the extensive biodiversity sampling held in museums is increasingly employed to address other critical societal concerns, especially those related to changing environmental conditions on our planet. Due to large-scale digitization efforts in the last decade, specimen information can now be collated across natural history museums. Here, we leverage the availability of digital records of specimens in the United States that span the past ~135 years to explore the vitality of this resource. Using mammals as an example, we document a significant decline in recent specimen acquisition at a time of extreme environmental degradation and loss of mammalian populations. To stimulate rigorous assessments of the impacts of changing conditions and future-proof this basic infrastructure for mammalogy, we recommend a renewed effort to build temporally deep, geographically extensive, and site-intensive collections of holistic specimens. Targeted fieldwork should be designed to leverage historic sampling to enable retrospective environmental analyses and derive more complete perspectives of change.
... The use of photographs to describe species without specimens being deposited in the museum is a very debated topic in zoology and systematic taxonomy (Ceríaco et al. 2016;Pape 2016). The use of images from citizen-science datasets, such as the BugGuide website, may eventually be used to support the description of new species . ...
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The Wallacean shortfall—lack of adequate knowledge of a species’ distribution in the geographic space—hinders practical actions towards species conservation, and such severe data deficit is ubiquitous when dealing with insect species. Considering the effects of human activities on Earth, especially in the last 50 years, proper delimitation of species distributions is of utmost importance for their conservation, but this is challenging when occurrence data for a species are limited. Here, we present suitable areas of occurrence for a recently-described specialist bee in the Southeastern United States (Colletes ultravalidus Hall and Ascher), modeled with presence-only methods that are robust to small number of occurrence points. Incorporation of new citizen science data points derived from images submitted online for identification enhanced the species distribution model which, in turn, validated the new sites as suitable for the species. Consideration of absence points, i.e. sites where the species was not recorded despite intensive surveys for Colletes and other specialist bees, resulted in more precise predications that can inform future searches for this bee. This study exemplifies how citizen-science projects may contribute to improving understanding of species biogeographic ranges and thus to overcoming the Wallacean shortfall. The need for critical evaluation prior to and after modeling of the occurrences obtained by non-specialists are discussed.
Article
With increased awareness of endangered species conservation, the development of digital technology, and different interpretations of some articles in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth edition), in recent years some new vertebrate species have been named and published without preserved dead bodies as type specimens. This has triggered discussions on the necessity of voucher specimens for naming a new animal species. In 2015, after Marshall & Evenhuis described a new insect species on the basis of 15 photographs only, a hot debate on this topic resulted. Supporters who advocate for naming new species without voucher specimens argue that, to name a new species without a voucher specimen is Code-compliant according to the Article 73.1.4. In addition, more and more skilled “digital collectors” would increase the likelihood of this kind of practice, and thus the threat to endangered species from collecting specimens could be reduced. Scholars on the other side of the debate argue that, in the Code, it is stressed that the specimen is the name-bearing type and not the illustration or description itself, and that describing new species based only on a picture and other non-physical specimens would result in errors in follow-up studies due to the lack of more detailed, accurate, and comprehensive morphological characteristics, along with possibilities of falsification. As well, collecting specimens is not the reason that species are endangered or extinct. In this article, the author summarizes the viewpoints of both sides of the debate. In considerationof some articles with ambiguous and even contradictory meanings, the author suggests that the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth edition) be revised in response to the needs of endangered species conservation and new technological applications. Naming new species with voucher specimens should be encouraged, as well as collecting specimens using reasonable, moderate, and orderly principles.
Chapter
Comparative biology is needed to anchor biodiversity in the academic landscape and to move away from a biology that is often circumscribed to model organisms, which are becoming increasingly well known, but which limits a comprehensive view of living organisms and ecosystems. This chapter proposes a new way of using photography in natural for the constitution of digital collections of images, associated with collection specimens, and other media to improve the description of taxa, and especially to better describe the biology of the species and to understand their ecology. Natural history collections must be ready for the new media to complement specimen databases. The massive digitization of collections is finding new uses through the constitution of morphological and functional trait databases. The conjunction of functional traits and media databases are an important prerequisite for the implementation of a series of applications, from conservation to bio-inspiration.
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Recently a correspondence in Zootaxa (Ceríaco et al., 2016) with more than 450 signatories including taxonomists, curators and other taxonomy users from all continents has received wide attention and has stimulated extensive discussion (a true buzz) around the possible interpretations of the Code (ICZN) about photography in taxonomy (Researchgate website link). This short note was necessary to recall the necessity of preserved specimens as vouchers for taxonomy, in response to photography-based taxonomy (PBT) as defended by Pape et al. (2016), and in a broad sense, for all the life sciences. This had been widely discussed and argued by Dubois & Nemésio (2007) who concluded on the importance of vouchers in taxonomy. But if the subject of these papers and discussions are about photography as the only way to document a new species, none of them discussed really what photography could represent in enhancing knowledge in natural sciences based on collections of specimens including type series and in association with other media (video and sound).
Thesis
In the current context of biodiversity crisis, it is essential to understand where and how life is distributed. Using biodiversity data managed by the GBIF (>640 million occurrences) covering 24 taxonomic classes, I investigated one of the best-known biodiversity patterns: the latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG), which is characterized by an increase in specific richness as we approach the equator. This objective first led me to produce informatics tools for handling large amount of data (Big data paradigm), before evaluating the quality of primary biodiversity data. Two important outcomes resulted from this evaluation. First, I highlight that a strong taxonomic bias exists in biodiversity occurrences. This bias implies that some taxa are more studied than others, creating a knowledge gap detrimental to our understanding of biodiversity as a whole. This bias is strongly impacted by societal preferences rather than research activity. Second, a radical change in biodiversity data gathering practices is happening: primary biodiversity data are now mostly observation-based and not specimen-based. Assets and liabilities of this shift are discussed, while the role of voucher specimens is reiterated and, for observations, the need for ancillary data is underlined. Finally, six hypotheses proposed to explain the LDG are tested on a cleaned dataset encompassing eight taxonomic classes. A recent, but never tested, version of the geometric constraint hypothesis is refuted, while the productivity hypothesis is strongly supported.
Article
Discussions of current issues of broad interest in zoological taxonomy are encouraged in Zootaxa (Zhang 2007). One recent topic examines species names based on photographs without preserved specimens. This is not a new topic: as Ceríaco et al. (2016) correctly noted, this topic was previously discussed about a decade ago in Zootaxa (Dubois & Nemésio 2007; Donegan 2008), and was soon followed by a series of opinions and rebuttals when the critically endangered species Galápagos pink land iguana—Conolophus marthae Gentile & Snell, 2009—was named without a preserved holotype (Donegan 2009; Nemésio 2009a,b; Dubois 2009; Gentile & Snell 2009; Minelli 2009).
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The fears expressed by Santos et al. (2016) that description of typeless species (new species described based on field photographs) can be fatal for the practice of taxonomy which will succumb to an uncontrollable stream of “species of questionable delimitation” are, in our opinion, exaggerated. The Code already protects taxonomic practice from subjectivity quite well by limiting opportunities for descriptions of new species based on field photos by rigid requirements, and only skilled taxonomists with extensive knowledge of a group are capable of fulfilling them. If a taxonomist has omitted to compare the new typeless species with the known species externally similar to it, the latter cannot be diagnosed and its name in that case becomes nomen nudum. Typeless species can coincide with species described earlier, but can represent a new species differing in internal features. To describe typeless species without infringement of Article 13.1 a taxonomist should compare this species to all related and similar species described earlier.
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In an age of biodiversity crisis and concomitant urgency to achieve a comprehensive inventory of living forms, many taxonomists have strongly opposed the apparent tendency for new taxa to be described from photographs without a preserved physical specimen [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. Following intense debate, the latter position was not endorsed by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature, which via Declaration 45 [9] opted to maintain flexibility in the articles governing species description. We congratulate their decision which, in our opinion, prevents taxonomy from taking a step backwards from its main goal: universality. Despite the undisputed role played by the holotype in species descriptions, we believe that the rhetoric in favour of making the Code less flexible is not only precariously grounded [7,8], but also endangers nomenclatural stability and progress in taxonomy, with potentially negative consequences for knowledge of biodiversity. This claim, combined with the growing demands for genetic analysis of newly described taxa [10], rather than ensuring the overall quality of such descriptions, potentially increases reliance of laboratories in developing countries (where the real wealth in terms of new species is concentrated) on first-world facilities in a totally unnecessary type of modern scientific imperialism. The ICZN Code has the mission of providing a solid system that guarantees the highest possible stability in nomenclature, yet simultaneously must be sufficiently flexible to be universal, incorporating changes dictated by our time and cultural diversity. Nowadays, it successfully manages to bridge all philosophical gaps intrinsic to taxonomy as a discipline in a highly dynamic world. However, it must be clear that both simplicity and flexibility of the articles governing descriptions of new species-group names are not casual. They play an important role in the Code’s inclusiveness and should be preserved in its forthcoming editions. Nevertheless, we do believe that greater clarification of the specifics in cases of new species descriptions wherein a physical holotype is not needed should be considered by the Commission. One of us (Raposo) was one of 493 co-signatories to the letter by Ceríaco et al. (2016), but subsequently, having published a philosophical view of the case (Raposo & Kirwan 2017) and participated in public discussions, his opinion has altered considerably, specifically regarding the opinion expressed in that letter that a physical holotype should be an obligation. We thank all that have given their precious time to discuss the subject with us. References 1. B.A. Minteer, J.P. Collins, R. Puschendorf, Science 344, 260 (2014). 2. F.T. Krell, Nature 538, 168 (2016). 3. T. Pape, Nature 537, 307 (2016). 4. L.M.P. Ceríaco, E.E. Gutiérrez, A. Dubois, Zootaxa 4196, 435 (2016). 5. E.E. Gutiérrez, R.H. Pine, Science 355, 1275 (2017). 6. M.A. Raposo, G.M. Kirwan, Bionomina 12, 52 (2017). 7. S.E. Thorpe, Zootaxa 4226 (3): 449–450. (2017). 8. A. R. S Garraffoni, A.V.L. Freitas, Science 355, 805 (2107). 9. ICZN, Bull. Zool. Nomencl. 73, 97 (2017). 10. R. Garrouste, Zootaxa 4269, (2017).
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