[Coral-List] Bleaching Report

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Wed Aug 20 03:38:29 EDT 2008

Wallace 1999, p. 2 details the situation for Acropora muricata and A. 
formosa.  A. muricata was described by Linnaeus in 1758, but he referred to 
a work by Rumphius that included a drawing.  Linnaeus did not designate a 
type specimen or illustrate a specimen.  Wallace, 1999 designated a neotype 
from the area in Indonesia where Rumphius worked that looks like his 
drawing.  It is a species named A. formosa by Dana, 1846, so A. formosa is 
now a junior synonym.  As I understand it, the old rules of Zoological 
nomenclature allowed designating a neotype this way, but the new rules, in 
effect as of Jan 1, 2000, do not.  (Also, the new rules require designating 
the type specimen in the original description.)
     For an alternate view, see Veron, 2000, Vol. 1, p. 176.  His view is 
that the name A. formosa has long been applied to one of the best known 
corals, and changing it would create confusion where there is none, and this 
is not allowed by the rules.
     Anyone confused?
     As much as the taxonomic naming system is a pain, we still use it 
because it is useful, and no one has come up with a better system.  I've 
read one opinion that much of the task of modern taxonomists is just trying 
to untangle the mess left them by earlier taxonomists.  That is certainly 
part of the task, but not all of it.   -Doug

Wallace, C. C.  1999.  Staghorn corals of the world, A revision of the genus 
Acropora.  CSIRO Publishing, Australia.

Veron, J. E. N.  2000.  Corals of the World.  AIMS, Australia.  3 volumes.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Keven Reed" <reedkc at comcast.net>
To: "shashank Keshavmurthy" <iamshanky15 at yahoo.com>; 
<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Bleaching Report

Thanks, Shashank.

On a taxonomic sidebar, however, isn't Acropora formosa (Dana, 1846) now A. 

I realize all our old texts and even fairly new field guides use "A. 
formosa", but I believe the precedent goes to Rumphius who described the 
coral when he lived on Ambon in Indonesia from 1660-1670 (he thought the 
animals were plants??)

Looking forward to an update, correction to my impression above about 
current Acroporid nomenclature.  Here's a recent pub' (2008) for genetic 
work on A. muricata if anyone's interested: 


Keven Reed
Orange Park, Florida

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