15 May 2012

How many names do you need?

The question of what to call Marmorkrebs in the scientific literature has bubbled up again. When I started the blog, there was no proper scientific name, and I suggested using the name “Marmorkrebs,” because it was distinctive. I thought the matter was relatively settled, scientifically speaking, when Martin and colleagues proposed Procambarus fallax f. virginalis as a scientific name for Marmorkrebs.

A paper by Johnson and colleagues poses a strange puzzle. For some unknown reason, they coin an entirely new name for Marmorkrebs: Procambarus sp. malgasy. Nobody else has used this terminology, although Jones and colleagues do refer to “Malagasy Procambarus” in their paper on Marmorkrebs in Madagascar. Maybe it was meant to be Procambarus sp. Malgasy, with the “Malgasy” purely as an descriptive adjective. Then someone at the editing or proofing stage changed the formatting to resemble a species name.

Even so, it doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t refer to Marmorkrebs as “P. fallax f. virginalis.” They have clearly read the paper by Martin and colleagues – it’s in the list of references.Plus, the analysis by Johnson and colleagues supports that Marmorkrebs is most closely related to P. fallax.


Jones JPG, Rasamy JR, Harvey A, Toon A, Oidtmann B, Randrianarison MH, Raminosoa N, Ravoahangimalala OR. 2009. The perfect invader: A parthenogenic crayfish poses a new threat to Madagascar’s freshwater biodiversity. Biological Invasions 11(6): 1475-1482. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-008-9334-y

Johnson GT, Elder JF, Jr., Thompson SM, Hightower P, Bechler D. 2011. Phylogeny of the freshwater crayfish subfamily Cambarinae based on 16S rDNA gene analysis. Current Trends in Ecology 2: 97-113. http://www.researchtrends.net/tia/abstract.asp?in=0&vn=2&tid=66&aid=3396

Martin P, Dorn NJ, Kawai T, van der Heiden C, Scholtz G. 2010. The enigmatic Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) is the parthenogenetic form of Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870). Contributions to Zoology 79(3): 107-118. http://dpc.uba.uva.nl/ctz/vol79/nr03/art03

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