Journal of Mammalogy
Researchers are increasingly using museum collections for taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics, and faunal analyses, and they assume that taxonomic identifications on museum labels are correct. However, identifications may be incorrect or out of date, which could result in false conclusions from subsequent research. A recent geometric morphometrics analysis of skulls of African canids by Machado and Teta (2020) suggested that Canis lupaster soudanicus is a junior synonym of Lupulella adusta. However, the holotype of soudanicus was not measured and further investigation of the putative soudanicus specimens used in this study showed that these originally were identified as L. adusta. This original identification was confirmed by dental measurements, which also confirm that the holotype of soudanicus is Canis lupaster. Hence, soudanicus should not be synonymized with L. adusta. This example highlights the importance of careful checking of species identifications of museum specimens prior to research and, where possible, including (holo)types of taxa, before making taxonomic changes that could have important consequences for species conservation and management.
Canis lupaster, Lupulella adusta, misidentification, museum, taxonomy
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Kitchener, Andrew C.; Machado, Fabio A.; Hayssen, Virginia; Moehlman, Patricia D.; and Viranta, Suvi, "Consequences of the Misidentification of Museum Specimens: The Taxonomic Status of Canis lupaster soudanicus" (2020). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.