Re: NANFA-L-- Moribund fish & Life Outside

ichthos at
Mon, 24 Oct 2005 19:36:43 +0000

> out of curiousity what is the general amount of time before a change
> in systematics is accepted, especially in this day in age where information
> can be spread so easily?

That's a very good question. First of all, peer review should separate the wheat from the chaff. So when the data is published in a respectable journal -- Copeia, say -- it should pretty much be good to go. That's not always the case (Pararhinichthys, anyone?), but holds true for most cases.

The list of common and scientific names published by the American Fisheries Society every 10+ years is usually the standard-bearing checklist. They do a good job of sorting through the published papers and promulgating the names (i.e., species) that have the most hard evidence behind them (although their recent acceptance of splitting R. obtusus from R. atralatus without any published evidence confounds me).

Beyond the AFS list, a good rule of thumb is whether a name change is picked up by other authors in their books and papers. If more than one competent taxonomist use a new name with any regularity, then it's tacitly accepted by the scientific community.

> My example, and curiousity, comes from a couple papers I have been
> reading that conclude that Nothonotus should be elevated to genus level.

I know one ichthyologist who thinks this paper is utter crap and is surprised -- shocked, even -- that it was published. It will be interesting to see if other darter experts adopt its recommendations. For the sake of nomenclatural stability and clear communications, however, you'd be safe continuing to refer to Nothonotus species as Etheostoma for the time being.

Chris Scharpf
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