Explaining Changes To Species Names In Nicholson et al. 2012

I’m a little embarrassed to be writing this post, but I’m still unable to figure out some of the proposed changes to anole binomials in Nicholson et al.’s (2012) taxonomic revision of Anolis. I’m a real novice with implementation of “The Code” and the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, so I’m looking for a bit of help from AA readers who are more expert than I.

I understand that some of Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to specific epithets are necessitated by the fact that their taxonomic revision would change the gender of generic epithets (e.g., Anolis chlorocyanus would be Deiroptyx chlorocyana due to the fact that Anolis is masculine and Deiroptyx is feminine). These types of changes are demanded by The Code’s article 31.2. However, I am struggling to understand Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to twelve binomials that – to my novice eyes – do not appear to be due strictly to changes in the gender of generic epithets (see table below). Because the authors of this paper include leading authorities on taxonomy and nomenclature, I trust that these changes are not simply  the result of typographical errors.

In most cases cited in my table, Nicholson et al. add or change vowels in the correct original spellings of species epithets, where the “correct original spelling” is defined under The Code as “the spelling used in the work in which the name was established.” Based on my amateur reading of The Code, changes to correct original spellings are not permitted  unless it can be shown that the original spelling was inadvertently incorrect due to a printer’s error or related mistakes unrelated to the authors lack of familiarity with Latin (ICZN, Article 32). Can somebody enlighten me about which articles in the code govern the changes in the table below?

In this table, I provide the genus to which Nicholson et al. assign each species, the gender of this genus, the exact spelling for the specific epithet used in their manuscript, the spelling of the specific epithet from the Reptile Database, the spelling of the specific epithet from the original publication (NAs indicate that I have yet to check the original citation4), the type of change that Nicholson et al. have proposed, and the citation of the original description. Below the table, I provide some additional details about three specific cases. Thanks in advance for your help.

Genus Gender Nicholson et al. Reptile Database Original Spelling Change Description Citation
Anolis Masculine anfilioquioi anfiloquioi anfiloquioi o to io Garrido 1980
Anolis Masculine maclientus macilentus macilentus e to ie Garrido and Hedges 1992
Anolis Masculine pumilis pumilus pumilus4 u to i Garrido 1988
Ctenonotus Masculine monoensis monensis monensis4 e to oe Stejneger 1904
Ctenonotus Masculine nubilis nubilus nubilus4 u to i Garman 1887
Dactyloa Feminine anatolorus anatoloros anatoloros o to u Ugueto et al. 2007
Dactyloa Feminine euskalerrari euskalerriari euskalerriari ia to a Barros et al. 1996
Deiroptyx Feminine domincanus [see comments for correction and clarification] dominicanus dominicanus delete i Rieppel 1980 [Note: the original version of this post incorrectly referenced de Quieroz et al. 1998]
Norops1 Masculine forbesi forbesorum forbesi si to sorum Smith & Van Gelder 1955
Norops Masculine schiedei [see comments] schiedii schiedii4 ei to ii Wiegmann 1834
Norops2 Masculine williamsi williamsii williamsii ii to i Bocourt 1870
Norpos3 ? parvicirculatus parvicirculata parvicirculata4 rops to rpos and a to us Alvarex del Toro & Smith 1956

I have a bit more information about three cases in this table.

1. Anolis forbesi is the original spelling in Smith and Van Gelder (1955), but Michels and Bauer (2004) corrected this name to Anolis forbesorum due to the fact that this species is named after more than one person. Michels and Bauer (2004) suggest that this change is a “justified emendation” under Articles 31.1.2-3 and 33.2.2 of The Code. We know that at least one author of Nicholson et al. (2012) was aware of this report because Michels and Bauer thank Jay Savage for having provided thoughtful comments on their manuscript. I’m not sure why Nicholson et al. (2012) reject this proposed change by using forbesi.

2. Nicholson et al. (2012) delete the final ‘i’ from a species originally named Anolis williamsii, in spite of the fact that article 33.4 of the ICZN states that “[t]he use of the genitive ending -i in a subsequent spelling of a species-group name that is a genitive based upon a personal name in which the correct original spelling ends with -ii, or vice versa, is deemed to be an incorrect subsequent spelling, even if the change in spelling is deliberate.” Which part of this rule or related rules in The Code permits changes from ‘ii’ to ‘i’ under some conditions?

3. Nicholson et al. (2012) change both the generic and specific epithets of Anolis parvicirculata when they refer to this species throughout their manuscript as Norpos parvicirculatus (see pages 91 and 96). Although I have included this change in my table for completeness, it is the one change that I think we must attribute to a typo, even though the misspelling of Norops as Norpos appears at least twice. The change from parvicirculatus seems likely due to the fact that this species originally, and incorrectly, had a feminine rather than a masculine specific epithet.

4. This post was revised to include original spellings confirmed by Peter Uetz, thus no more NAs in the table. Thanks Peter!


23 thoughts on “Explaining Changes To Species Names In Nicholson et al. 2012

  1. With regards to your extended point 1, Dubois has argued, in his usual long-winded and annoying style, that Michels and Bauer (2004) interpreted the rules incorrectly, and most taxonomists seem to be following him. The name forbesi is the valid name even if it was used to honor two people. See Dubois A 2007 Phylogenetic hypotheses, taxa and nomina in zoology. Zootaxa 1550: 51-86

  2. Missing original spellings:

    monensis: Nicholson use monoensis twice (p. 88, 95) and monensis twice (p. 101, 107); the original spelling is “monensis”

    pumilus: most authors have used pumilus; the Latin origin is “pumilus” for dwarf or pigmy. Unfortunately I don’t have the original description: Garrido, O. H. (1988) Nueva especies para la ciencia de Anolis (Lacertilia: Iguanidae) de Cuba perteneciente al complejo argiliaceus. Donana, Acta Vert. 15: 45-57. Does anybody have it?

    nubilus: the original spelling is “nubilus”.

    schiedii: the original spelling is “Schiedii”. By the way, the Reptile Database uses this original spelling, despite the fact that Wiegmann named this species after the collector, Christian J.W. Schiede.

    1. Thanks Peter. I am continuously amazed that you are able to keep track of all these changes. Nice work. I originally had schiedii and schiedei in the wrong columns; scheidii should have been in the column for your database while schiedei should have been in the column for Nicholson et al. I’ve changed the table to correct this. From looking at your database more closely, I now see that you have attributed schiedei to an invalid emendation by Wilson and McCranie 1982. I’ll get a copy of the pumilus description to confirm.

    1. I can verify pumilus from Garrido 1988 – if anyone wants a scan of that paper, email me and I’ll send you one. This misspelling (“pumilis” rather than the correct spelling “pumilus”) is pretty widespread, probably due to error propagation when folks reference the misspelling in influential phylogenies. Just last week, I corrected this in a manuscript I’m a coauthor on! It probably also has something to do with the fact that the original ref is a little difficult to track down.

    1. Thanks for your response. I now understand the justification for using forbesi rather than forbesorum. If I understand correctly, the eleven other new binomials referenced in my table are all the result of typos. This not what I expected.

      1. No, I was referring to your footnotes and comments above. There’s only six typos, and they aren’t misspelled throughout the document.

        1. I did not write this post to argue about how many typos there are in your paper. I was hoping to learn something about nomenclature. I spent a lot of time trying to track down explanations for the name changes in the table I presented with the belief that they were not typos. To spare others this exercise, and to avoid confusion in the future, I believe we should end this thread with some clarity about which new names are actually typos and which have explanations. I used some full-text searches of your paper to try to resolve this confusion. My original table was generated using a script that compared names in the reptile database to the names that appeared in your paper and pulled out those that didn’t match. This is why I didn’t realize that some names were only spelled incorrectly in some places. Based on these new text searches of the PDF and what I’ve read in the comments, here is my current take. I can’t find anyplace you used scheidei rather than scheidii in your paper in my latest searches, so my inclusion of this species in the table must have been a mistake. My apologies. Of the eleven species that remain, we now have an explanation for use of forbesi rather than forbesorum. In the absence of another explanation, I think that ten new binomials are the result of typos. Of these, seven appear to be misspelled throughout your paper: (1) anfilioquioi, (2) pumilis, (3) nubilis, (4) anatolorus, (5) euskalerrari, (6) williamsi, and (7) Norpos parviculatus. The final three names are only mispelled some of the time: (1) maclientus, (2) monoensis, and (3) domincanus.

          1. BTW – The Reptile Database has etymologies for (currently) 3,286 species, often with a short discussion of nomenclatural issues. If you see any missing ones, let me know and I will add it.

          2. In a previous post, over a year ago, Rich Glor acknowledged (9 October 2012 http://www.anoleannals.org/2012/10/09/explaining-new-binomials-and-species-epithets-from-the-nicholson-et-al-classification/ ) that several typographical errors were present in our paper. Had he had questions about the names, and was truly “embarrassed”, he could have asked me or any of my coauthors offline (say by a polite phone call, or maybe email), or asked his venerable colleagues Bill and Linda at KU. All could have saved him “public embarrassment”.

          3. Thanks for pointing on this previous post, which I had forgotten about. I did ask colleagues who are more familiar with The Code to help explain these changes, but nobody was able to do so. However, everyone I talked to also suggested that there may be aspects of The Code or features of these particular names justifying the changes. Re-reading this old post also serves as a reminder to both of us that I did contact you privately for an explanation of the changes you had proposed, only to be told that all of your changes were made following “the rules of Latin usage combined with ICZN rules for how you apply name changes.”

  3. I’m a bit confused about your entry for dominicanus. The incorrect spelling “domincanus” is used in the text on p. 59, but the correct spelling “dominicana” (gender changed to match that of Deiroptyx) is used in the appendices on pp. 84 and 94. The original description of this taxon was not published by de Queiroz et al. (1998) but by Rieppel (1980).

    1. An explanation for those who may be having a hard time interpreting the meaning of this comment. Jeremy Gibson-Brown is the spouse of Kirsten Nicholson. His comment suggests that by posting about the changes to binomials in Nicholson et al. I am comparable to a “character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “‘humbleness” (to borrow a passage from Wikipedia). I assume he believes I was being disingenuous by suggesting that I did not understand the nature of these changes and that the purpose of my post was to embarrass his wife by pointing out typos in her manuscript. This is not true. I did not understand the changes she proposed and I did assume that they were not the result of typos. I wrote my post with a genuine interest in understanding changes to species names with the help of people who understand the nature of such changes better than I do. Knowing that they are typos I am disappointed that I wasted as much time on this issue as I did. I am even more unhappy about the fact that his post has now made me the subject of false accusations and name-calling. We don’t usually permit personal insults on Anole Annals, but I’m not going to be the one to delete this comment. I hope that other editors of the blog will ensure that the comments section of this post do not devolve into further insults from anyone.

  4. There is an additional error with Anolis peraccae. In the Nicholson et al. paper, in some figures (figure 5a, 30a, 31a) appears as perracae, but in the text is used as peraccae, which I´m assuming that is the correct spelling, according to original description (Boulenger 1898). The same typo error is found in Poe 2004 (see figure 2 and appendix 2).

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