Re: NANFA-- OT: African Butterfly Fish

Bruce Stallsmith (
Wed, 12 Jan 2000 21:44:30 EST

I read Eisenhour's PCA methodology in his dissertation and it was definitely
a case of creative statistics. I haven't read enough to know how it might
affect his conclusions, i.e. raising various subspecies and populations to
species status. My other comments weren't accepting his conclusions; I agree
that it is way presumptive to accept these as new species, just because he
himself described them as such in a dissertation. And I agree, just because
a respected authority like Burr is on the committee doesn't make these
decisions writ in stone, outside of broader review processes.

A major example of re-doing the systematics of a large group was Lynne
Parenti's revision of the Cyprinidontiformes (killifish), in which her
dissertation was published as an issue of the American Museum of Natural
History's journal. Her work still really bugs a lot of people. But this is
different, of course, since she wasn't trying to accept or reject individual
species, a process with more much explicit rules than trying to revise an
Order (which will _always_ really bug at least someone!).

So my opinion is still unformed as to the whole speckled chub question, in
particular Eisenhour's analysis. I gotta find my December 1999 Copeia,
dammit! And I await the proposals of Gilbert & Mayden (yes?) for the eastern
_aestivalis_ populations.

And my 2 cents on lampreys as fish or not -- the fact that they are jawless
is a fundamental different between them and the true "fishes". They are
fish-like in many ways, but jaw structure is a major diagnostic character.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, lost in Alabama

>>I've just started reading Eisenhour's dissertation. He raises _M.
>>to species level in his disseration...
>That's my point. Dissertations aren't considered "published" material
>appropriate for formal taxonomic recognition under the ICZN.
>>... I suppose that by publishing it in Copeia it may be accepted as a new
>>species; also Brooks Burr was chair of his >doctoral committee that
>>approved his research, so that would seem to >lend weight to it.
>M. tetranema, yes. M. hyostoma, no. To say that just because Brooks was his
>PhD advisor that everything must be OK is not appropriate, either- that's
>what the whole peer-review process is for. All of us botch stuff once in a
>>As to the PCA, if he did what you say, using means instead of raw data, I
>>would say that's an argument for Copeia to bite the bullet >and hire a
>>statistics editor like _Ecology_ or other journals.
>He did that in his dissertation, but corrected it in the Copeia article (it
>probably got caught in review). There are some rather stat-savvy reviewers
>that Copeia sends stuff to... (not me! :)

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