[Coral-List] [Coral List] Coral nomenclature/taxonomy
VassilZlatarski at aol.com
VassilZlatarski at aol.com
Tue Feb 3 17:29:30 EST 2004
[Coral-List] Coral nomenclature/taxonomy
Somehow our non-Caribbean colleagues were exonerated from the heat of the
discussion and I imagine their enjoyment.
Instead of focusing only on the saga of Montastraea annularis s. l. why do
not we try to look for the roots of the problem and how can we fix it?
Personally, I am a victim of this problem because of the time factor. Thirty or forty
years ago, when I made my first steps in nomenclature and taxonomy, I was not
able to use the tremendous enrichment of the scleractinian knowledge achieved
during last two decades. Recently I have tried to update my understandings
and I prepared a university course/workshop on Scleractinian Low-Level Taxonomy
where I gratefully faced challenging unbiased questions.
Why is the scleractinian species is so troubling, and may we simplify the
problem? The difficulty in defining the scleractinian species may be attributed
to two factors: the objective nature of these elusive organisms, and the
subjective impact of us as researchers. Because coral nature is, except within
the narrow boundaries of certain controlled experiments, independent of our
will, our only hope for developing a more objective concept lies in striving for
improved researcher techniques and approaches. There are three areas in which
our subjective impact may hinder resolution of the scleractinian species -
nomenclature (N), ethics (E) and taxonomy (T) - and shifts in these three
paradigms will lead to more objective results. This focus on NET results requires
introspection on the personal, inter-colleague and international levels. The
International Code of Zoological Nomenclature offers a tool for regulating
nomenclature procedures, but it has been troublingly ignored recently. Ethical
issues require appeals to our conscience, study of the existing material and
publications, recognition of the necessity of publishing following peer review by
specialists and use of quality tests. Taxonomy is a long process starting with
sampling, which can be the first Achilles heel if it does not represent all
kinds and levels of variability. I will not go further. The taxonomy can be
facilitated by constantly updated species notions and a holistic approach.
Present-day knowledge on extant and fossil Scleractinia suggests that eleven
variables be taken into account in defining species.
Our colleguium may contribute considerably by reducing the subjective impact.
I believe that this discussion has been followed widely and it will be great
to hear from specialists globally, from the respected colleagues, veterans,
new pioneers and grant-recipients. Why not to try to define the future
strategies for scleractinian taxonomic research?
With best wishes,
Bristol, RI 02809
More information about the Coral-List