[Coral-List] New publication now online at Global Change Biology: coral name change

Maggy Nugues maggy.nugues at zmt-bremen.de
Sat Nov 7 10:12:52 EST 2009

Dear Listers,

Please find below a message from Rolf Bak (in the field).


Dear Alina, and Hi All,

I am in the field, working with common Caribbean corals such as Madracis 
mirabilis, which explains my somewhat belated reaction to your mailing.

The arguments used to change the name Madracis mirabilis are based on 
archaic species descriptions that cannot be validated or confirmed, on 
descriptions of photographs of only parts of colonies, on material of 
Duchassaing and Michelotti of uncertain status (no original Duchassaing 
labels), also where type material was lost “representative specimens” 
were used.

The superfluous new name for Madracis mirabilis has been ignored so far 
despite all efforts to get the new name accepted. I am afraid that now 
young, eager and inexperienced scientists will run up to show they are 
well informed, accepting the unjustified name.

However, this is a case of subjective synonymy which means that it is 
perfectly valid to continue using the name Madracis mirabilis. There 
cannot be confusion in identifying M. mirabilis. It is a common 
Caribbean species that is easily recognizable.

This is the last I will say on this on the Coral-List, I will not 
engaged in discussions, I have no time for that.

Those that are interested in the more detailed argumentation behind my 
rejection of this completely unjustified new name please contact me.

Those that are interested in the biology of coral species such as 
Madracis mirabilis, M. decactis, M. senaria, M. pharensis and M. 
formosa, contact me and I will send you our latest publications on 
distribution and functioning of coral host and algal symbionts over deep 
reef slopes.

IN CONCLUSION: The proposed name change for a coral species with such a 
prominent place in the coral literature based on a non-objective 
synonymy decision is a poor contribution to stabilizing coral 
nomenclature. The ICZN is dedicated to "achieving stability and sense in 
the scientific naming of animals".

Best wishes,


Prof. Dr. Rolf P.M. Bak
rbak at nioz.nl
tel +31 222 369541
fax +31 222 319674
Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)
P.O. Box 59
1790 AB Den Burg, Texel
The Netherlands

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