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Old July 1st, 2014, 01:40 AM   #1
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Default Cichlid Profiles - Discontinuation of Apistogramma

As of today, there are about 235 described species of Apistogramma, with more being described daily. Unfortunately, they are being described in expensive privately printed books (which you can get autographed), from aquarium species, and with inferred ranges and type localities. Traditionally new species must be described in peer reviewed journals, or as of 2012, in similar format online. After I inquired of Uwe Romer about the cryptic doppelganger similarities of [A. huascar to species that share the same small localities, and often cannot be told apart, I received a friendly reply which which did little to assuage my curiousity about how you can describe a species from a fish tank, say it comes from Peru, and likely inhabits part of the same range as other Apistos. Uwe Romer and his partners have established a website called Apistogramma Idiots. In my opinion, while Uwe Romer is probably the most knowledgeable worker on the genus, he has used untraditional procedures to describe his new sp[ecies. New species should not be described without regard to the their evolution and relationships. They should not be described to make a profit or hang your name on another taxon. Type localities cannot be implied from fish tank specimens. Doppelganger species need intense study of behavioral patterns, incidence of hybridization, and genotype analysis to confirm their identity.

In 1991 I (Price and Russo, The Snake 23:29-36) had to deal with problem of insular Caribbean Boa constrictors, and suggested that since they were geographically and sexually isolated,a new designation be made for them (the semi-species), variants which are in the visible process of becoming distinct species quite rapidly. Nomenclatural zoologists refused to recognize my suggestion. We all recognize that a species is a lineage which changes in time, but what do you do with ones you can see changing right now and which are very isolated from all conspecifics? I do take some solace that the Dominican Boa, Boa nebulosa, which I stated in 1991 could not in good faith be Boa c. nebulosa is now recognized as a full species by some herpetologists, 23 years after I suggested their status was problematical.

If you want to see all the Apisto variants currently named, I suggest you invest in Romer's books, but given his proclivity for naming new species by unconventional means and with insufficient data, I would guess that 20 years hence, many of his new species will either be consolidated or discarded.

I at this time do not feel that the state of flux in the genus warrants me describing many of the Apistos based on their poor taxonomy and limited distinctive character traits.
Dr. Robert Price
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