[Coral-List] Bleaching Report

Gustav Paulay paulay at flmnh.ufl.edu
Thu Aug 21 10:10:19 EDT 2008

   Hi All,
   As  a  point  of  clarification to Doug's email, ICZN rules are pretty
   black  and  white,  and  accordingly  the  name A. muricata is now the
   proper  name  for  this  coral  as  a  result  of  Wallace's lectotype
   designation.   Whether  you  agree  with  that  designation  or not is
   irrelevant  from  a  nomenclatural  rules'  perspective.   The  reason
   Wallace  did  that designation is that A. muricata is the type species
   of  Acropora, thus leaving it undefined creates a nomenclatural can of

   Gustav Paulay
   Florida Museum of Natural History
   University of Florida
   Gainesville FL 32611-7800 USA
   Email: [1]paulay at flmnh.ufl.edu
   Phone: 1 (352) 273-1948
   FAX: 1 (352) 846-0287
   Douglas Fenner wrote, On 8/20/2008 3:38 AM:

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" [2]<reedkc at comcast.net>
To: "shashank Keshavmurthy" [3]<iamshanky15 at yahoo.com>;
[4]<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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   5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18322634
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