Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Need morphology always be required for new species descriptions?

L. G. Cook A D , R. D. Edwards A , M. D. Crisp B and N. B. Hardy C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

B The Australian National University, Research School of Biology, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

C Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries, Entomology, Brisbane, Qld 4068, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: l.cook@uq.edu.au

Invertebrate Systematics 24(3) 322-326 https://doi.org/10.1071/IS10011
Submitted: 3 May 2010  Accepted: 30 July 2010   Published: 30 August 2010

Abstract

Despite the widespread and common use of DNA-sequence data to estimate phylogenies, support or contest classifications, and identify species using barcodes, they are not commonly used as the primary or sole source of data for describing species. This is possibly due to actual or perceived pressure from peers to include morphology as the primary source of data for species descriptions. We find no compelling evidence to exclude DNA-only descriptions, or to insist that morphology always be included in a species description. It is not the data type per se that is important, but the science behind the taxonomic conclusions. Using alternative kinds of data for descriptions should not cause problems for taxonomy if links are kept with type specimens.


Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers, Andy Austin and the ‘papers-in-the-pub’ systematics discussion group at UQ for their input that helped improve the manuscript. We would also like to acknowledge funding support from the Australian Biological Resources Study and the Australian Research Council.


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