Family Bufonidae

In their Amphibian Tree of Life, Frost et al. (2006) split the long-standing and apparently monophyletic genus Bufo (True Toads) into a number of different new genera. Smith and Chiszar (2006) immediately criticized this action as unnecessary and possibly confusing to the majority of users of classification who were not systemists. They instead proposed a compromise that would both preserve the integrity of these new groupings as well as maintaining the conservative function of a reference system. The compromise involved recognizing the newly proposed groups as subgenera rather than as new full genera. This compromise was fully embraced by Pauly, Hillis, and Canatella (2009) who opined that, in the interest of stability, “changes to the genus name should be avoided, except in cases of nonmonophyly.” The accepted method of including a subgenus within a scientific name involves placing the subgenus name within parentheses following the genus name, as in Bufo (Anaxyrus) punctatus. Furthermore, it would seem that a name incorporating both genus and subgenus epithets would be more phylogenetically informative than either would be alone (eg. Bufo (Anaxyrus) punctatus would appear to convey more relationship information than would either Bufo punctatus or Anaxyrus punctatus). This is the route the ad hoc SWCHR Taxonomy Committee has chosen to follow.

Literature Cited

Frost, D.R.; T. Grant, J. Falvovich, R. Bain, A. Haas, C. F. Haddad, R. de Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. Donnellan, C. Raxworthy, J. Campbell, B. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. Nussbaum, J. Lynch, D., Green, and W. Wheeler. 2006. The Amphibian Tree of Life. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 297:1-370.

Pauly, Gregory B.; David M. Hillis, and David C. Cannatella. 2009. “Taxonomic Freedom and the Role of Official Lists of Species Names.” Herpetologica, 65(2): 115–128.

Smith, Hobart M. and David Chiszar. 2006. “Dilemma of Name-Recognition: Why and When to Use New Combinations of Scientific Names.” Herpetol. Con. Biol. 1(1):6-8.

15 October 2022

SWCHR Ad Hoc Committee on Common and Scientific Names

Steve Bledsoe
Gerald Keown
Tom Lott
Robert Twombley