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Lynx's Checklist of Mammals of the World - my two cents (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
After a very long wait, I received this past weekend the two volume Illustrated checklist of the mammals of world. I figured I would take a moment to give my two cents. First two caveats: First, while I skimmed every page, I mostly paid attention two the two areas I have the most experience with: Marine mammals due to my research field, and North American Mammals…due to well living in North America.



First off, some overall comments. First, the books are beautiful, and I enjoyed flipping through and encountering species I had never even heard of. Every single described species, at least those up to the books date of compilation, is figured here. Beyond the illustrations, every species gets a short section of text and a range map. The range maps seem mostly okay. My only complaints would be that the lack of political boundaries meant that sometimes it was quite hard to place the distribution of the species. The small maps also caused a bit of problems sometimes for the marine mammals: it was sometimes hard to see narrow coastal distributions. Text is threadbare but includes what is needed in a book marketed as a checklist, providing the common name, other names it goes by (including in a couple of different languages), taxonomy where relevant, a list of subspecies, and distribution. Despite only limited skimming, I did notice some typos and other minor errors: thinks like referring to Florida as SW USA, or depicting a subspecies that isn’t mentioned in the text. The taxonomy section is up to date and quite handy, as it will often mention the likelihood of future splits and lumps down the line. Some of these potential future splits get illustrated, some don’t. I am guessing this mostly comes down to a page space issue. The taxonomy used in turn seems to be mostly reasonable and mostly defers to taxonomic authorities in their own fields. Species which probably went extinct in historic times as well as domesticated species are covered, but only in text format.



As far as the critters that I am most familiar with:



Marine Mammals

Berardius minimus, the new beaked whale from the northern North Pacific, is included and illustrated. Although it uses a common name I have never seen use, as the original describers preferred Black Beaked whale and the marine mammal taxonomic committee went with Sato’s. Accepted splits include a three-way split of the Amazon River Dolphin and a three way split of the finless porpoise. The former split in my opinion isn’t merited as morphological differences are trivial and the genetic data isn’t great. The latter has been partially accepted, however splitting off the Yangtze River Porpoise is something only recently proposed. It’s a borderline case but has more merit IMHO than the amazon river three way split (maybe a 2-way split could be okay here). Lahille’s Bottlenose Dolphin, a recently proposed elevation of southern South American Atlantic populations, is not followed here. This is is a split that has some merit in my opinion. Lagenorhynchus is broken into three genera but 5 genera of Delphinae are still recognized, and haven’t been lumped into Delphinus. Gray whales are moved into Balaenopteridae. All the orca morphotypes are illustrated, although obviously they are not split since no names exist for them yet. Didn’t notice anything really different with pinnipeds or sirenians, but I wouldn’t have expected anything really.


North American Mammals.

Several splits, some of which are probably known to mammalwatchers here, are included. These include Pacific Marten, Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel, American water shrew splits, and Fremont’s Squirrel. Ones which I don’t think have received as much attention, and were proposed in recent papers over the last couple of years, include:


Meadow Vole has been split into three species: the allopatric Florida Salt Marsh vole, Western Meadow Vole, and Eastern Meadow Vole. Incidentally, the western species extends pretty far east: if you have seen a meadow vole in the Midwest you’ve probably seen this species

Deer Mouse: This is a big one: The North American Deer Mouse has been split into 6 species
Keen’s/Northwestern Deermouse = the already recognized form in the pacific northwest
Gambel’s Deermouse = central and southern California and adjacent Nevada and Arizona
Eastern Deermouse = Eastern North America
Southern Deermouse = Southcentral North America, including Texas and New Mexico and south
Western Deermouse = I’ve also seen this referred to as Prairie Deermouse; Western North America
Yukon Deermouse = Yukon territory

Pygmy Shrew is split into Eastern and Western species

Montane Shrew has been split into Northern and Southern species

Hawaiian Bat has been split from Hoary Bat: This one isn’t so straightforward, as “regular” Hoary Bats can also be found on some islands

Small-footed Myotis: split into Western, Dark-nosed (found in central North America), and Eastern.

There are probably others I missed, but those are the big ones



Two final notes: I am not sure where they are getting the common names from. Some of which are awkward and I don’t think I have ever seen usage in North America. I don't know why people keep insisting on using Wapiti, since I've never heard that word used for deer everyone here calls Elk.

Also…I am sad to report that the bovid chapter still follows Colin and Groves. I was really hoping this volume would walk back some of those suggested changes. Especially as both the pig and deer sections specifically say they are not following that work. I’m actually more on the splitter side of the fence, and I think traditional taxonomy does over-lump hoofed mammals. I expect reality is somewhere between those traditional taxonomy and Colin and Groves. Alas we get an taxonomy not followed by most other sources.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
Wapiti is generally used for the species wherever it occurs in Asia, and it's occasionally used in North America as well.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Wapiti is generally used for the species wherever it occurs in Asia, and it's occasionally used in North America as well.
Oh I know Wapiti is used, I just have never heard it used in real life. Common names I think should be...names that are commonly used.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
After a very long wait, I received this past weekend the two volume Illustrated checklist of the mammals of world. I figured I would take a moment to give my two cents. First two caveats: First, while I skimmed every page, I mostly paid attention two the two areas I have the most experience with: Marine mammals due to my research field, and North American Mammals…due to well living in North America.



First off, some overall comments. First, the books are beautiful, and I enjoyed flipping through and encountering species I had never even heard of. Every single described species, at least those up to the books date of compilation, is figured here. Beyond the illustrations, every species gets a short section of text and a range map. The range maps seem mostly okay. My only complaints would be that the lack of political boundaries meant that sometimes it was quite hard to place the distribution of the species. The small maps also caused a bit of problems sometimes for the marine mammals: it was sometimes hard to see narrow coastal distributions. Text is threadbare but includes what is needed in a book marketed as a checklist, providing the common name, other names it goes by (including in a couple of different languages), taxonomy where relevant, a list of subspecies, and distribution. Despite only limited skimming, I did notice some typos and other minor errors: thinks like referring to Florida as SW USA, or depicting a subspecies that isn’t mentioned in the text. The taxonomy section is up to date and quite handy, as it will often mention the likelihood of future splits and lumps down the line. Some of these potential future splits get illustrated, some don’t. I am guessing this mostly comes down to a page space issue. The taxonomy used in turn seems to be mostly reasonable and mostly defers to taxonomic authorities in their own fields. Species which probably went extinct in historic times as well as domesticated species are covered, but only in text format.



As far as the critters that I am most familiar with:



Marine Mammals

Berardius minimus, the new beaked whale from the northern North Pacific, is included and illustrated. Although it uses a common name I have never seen use, as the original describers preferred Black Beaked whale and the marine mammal taxonomic committee went with Sato’s. Accepted splits include a three-way split of the Amazon River Dolphin and a three way split of the finless porpoise. The former split in my opinion isn’t merited as morphological differences are trivial and the genetic data isn’t great. The latter has been partially accepted, however splitting off the Yangtze River Porpoise is something only recently proposed. It’s a borderline case but has more merit IMHO than the amazon river three way split (maybe a 2-way split could be okay here). Lahille’s Bottlenose Dolphin, a recently proposed elevation of southern South American Atlantic populations, is not followed here. This is is a split that has some merit in my opinion. Lagenorhynchus is broken into three genera but 5 genera of Delphinae are still recognized, and haven’t been lumped into Delphinus. Gray whales are moved into Balaenopteridae. All the orca morphotypes are illustrated, although obviously they are not split since no names exist for them yet. Didn’t notice anything really different with pinnipeds or sirenians, but I wouldn’t have expected anything really.


North American Mammals.

Several splits, some of which are probably known to mammalwatchers here, are included. These include Pacific Marten, Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel, American water shrew splits, and Fremont’s Squirrel. Ones which I don’t think have received as much attention, and were proposed in recent papers over the last couple of years, include:


Meadow Vole has been split into three species: the allopatric Florida Salt Marsh vole, Western Meadow Vole, and Eastern Meadow Vole. Incidentally, the western species extends pretty far east: if you have seen a meadow vole in the Midwest you’ve probably seen this species

Deer Mouse: This is a big one: The North American Deer Mouse has been split into 6 species
Keen’s/Northwestern Deermouse = the already recognized form in the pacific northwest
Gambel’s Deermouse = central and southern California and adjacent Nevada and Arizona
Eastern Deermouse = Eastern North America
Southern Deermouse = Southcentral North America, including Texas and New Mexico and south
Western Deermouse = I’ve also seen this referred to as Prairie Deermouse; Western North America
Yukon Deermouse = Yukon territory

Pygmy Shrew is split into Eastern and Western species

Montane Shrew has been split into Northern and Southern species

Hawaiian Bat has been split from Hoary Bat: This one isn’t so straightforward, as “regular” Hoary Bats can also be found on some islands

Small-footed Myotis: split into Western, Dark-nosed (found in central North America), and Eastern.

There are probably others I missed, but those are the big ones
I don't know why people keep insisting on using Wapiti, since I've never heard that word used for deer everyone here calls Elk.

That would presumably be because what you call a Moose, is an Elk in Europe?
 

T.O.

Well-known member
Did they at least manage to get the distribution maps correct for the Bovids? In HMW they just copy pasted them from the Ungulate Taxonomy book, which meant distributions were often incomplete, very notable for Klipspringer...

I probably won't buy the book, it is a shame they didn't take their time to develop a single taxonomic concept to use and be the first to have a proper complete list and set up a comission handling lumps and splits as they did with the birds. Apparently publishing stuff quickly was more important, but it now leaves primates and bovids oversplit and some other taxonomic groups possibly overlumped
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I have never gotten the impression that the idea of organized taxonomic committees is as prevalent in groups outside of birds. I mean....there are what, something like 4 major global bird checklists, most of which are updated yearly. The only major mammal checklist that existed prior to Lynx's was Mammal Species of the world 3rd edition, which hasn't been updated since 2005. Even regional checklists, like for North America, are updated very sparingly.

So it doesn't surprise me Lynx's taxonomy is more piece meal in nature.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Unfortunately, no one I know of has produced a spreadsheet of the taxonomy used by Lynx.

Niels
 

birdboybowley

Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
Supporter
England
One little gripe I have is that there isn't a separate index in each volume. Pain in the ass looking in vol 1 for something then having to go to vol 2 to find where it is....and when you do go looking all species are listed as they're spelt so no going straight to mouse and going from there
 

twilighter

Active member
The ASM database has largely adopt the Lynx taxonomy


The main exception in ASM Mammal Diversity Database newest 1.2 version is Bovidae. The authors reverting to the MSW3. They include some newly recognized splits, like 2 spices of Bushbuck, 8 species of Genus Madoqua, 5 species of Genus Nanger, reclassification of the Serows and Gorals, etc. and totaled the extant species of Bovidae of 152.
 
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T.O.

Well-known member
I have never gotten the impression that the idea of organized taxonomic committees is as prevalent in groups outside of birds. I mean....there are what, something like 4 major global bird checklists, most of which are updated yearly. The only major mammal checklist that existed prior to Lynx's was Mammal Species of the world 3rd edition, which hasn't been updated since 2005. Even regional checklists, like for North America, are updated very sparingly.

So it doesn't surprise me Lynx's taxonomy is more piece meal in nature.

There indeed hasn't been an attempt since the 2005 book and I would think this book would be a prime occasion to establish such a tradition and it would benefit the mammal watching and conservation society to have one. They even brought someone on board from the new ASM Mammal Database so the opportunity was there (and maybe even the wish?). If they would have spent 1-2 more years instead of just publishing a lot fast, the book could be a lot more useful.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
The main exception in ASM Mammal Diversity Database newest 1.2 version is Bovidae. The authors reverting to the MSW3. They include some newly recognized splits, like 2 spices of Bushbuck, 8 species of Genus Madoqua, 5 species of Genus Nanger, reclassification of the Serows and Gorals, etc. and totaled the extant species of Bovidae of 152.
Thanks for making me aware of this...somehow it escaped my attention. I saw some other differences here and there as well, but it does come with a downloadable csv file, so its a bit more manageable.
 

Melanie

Well-known member
There are countless papers which discuss taxonomic problems and everybody should judge for themselves whether he/she accept a split or lump (Also the taxonomy of HMW is based largely on this papers, see the references part in each volume). For me a book is good when it has comprehensive and accurate data.
 

T.O.

Well-known member
There are countless papers which discuss taxonomic problems and everybody should judge for themselves whether he/she accept a split or lump (Also the taxonomy of HMW is based largely on this papers, see the references part in each volume). For me a book is good when it has comprehensive and accurate data.

I disagree, the level for accepting splits is extremely inconsistent in the literature and as they have just copied the literature there is a gigantic inconsistency in the new checklist as to what is a species (and many bovid splits in the current checklist aren't even supported by data). That there are 4 bird checklists already indicates that there is a need for a higher body that can process all the literature and filter the relevant (and good) studies out, as otherwise we are ending up with everybody using a different checklist and possibly basing their decisions on inaccurate data.
 

Mustela

New member
I have just gotten my order last week, and after some brief looks into its content, I feel the checklist was released too early and that it seems like it didn’t receive the same kind of work and time to develop as done with the birds. There are some species whose distributions don’t show the latest updates (for example, ignoring the fact that Metachirus myosuros was discovered to inhabit also in the eastern Honduras and possibly Guatemala, or having a completely wrong distribution map of Alouatta palliata in Guatemala). Also, I didn't like the omission of country borders in the distribution maps; without them, I find it very difficult to interpret some distributions.

Then there is the issue with the illustrations. For the second volume of the birds checklist (as it has a similar amount of species compared with the two volumes for mammals combined), it is said that they included 642 new illustrations and 1 208 improved ones. But for the mammals checklist, they only included 800 new illustrations. However, a lot, if not all, of the new species added since the original handbooks have illustrations that consist of copies of other species with minor changes in color (the worst example being all the subspecies of Sylvilagus brasiliensis), exact copies of other species with some changes in the positions of the tail or the limbs (as in the genus Philander and Leopardus tigrinus, L. t. oncilla, L. emiliae and L. guttulus), or both (as in the colocolo cats). Fortunately, they did hear the complaints for the primate illustrations and included really improved ones for most of the species. However, the quality in the illustrations for new world monkeys is highly inconsistent: why did they keep the old illustrations of the Callitrichidae with the exception of three species? And for the other families, most of the species are in the same posture (worst example being the first eight howler monkeys). Sadly, new world monkeys didn’t improve as much as the other primates.

And finally, the taxonomy. It is still inconsistent. They kept the bovids as in the original handbook, making a large part of the second volume kind of useless. But there’s also the issue with primates. Most, if not all, primatologists seems to have adopted a very extreme version of the Phylogenetic Species Concept, practically erasing intraspecific variation and subspecies (as for example, in the Callitrichidae, Cheirogaleidae, and Lepilemuridae). And while it is being accepted by the IUCN, the primate section still faces the same problems of the bovids in my opinion. I would have wished they took their time to analyze the evidence for these groups of mammals and presented an accurate list of species.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I disagree, the level for accepting splits is extremely inconsistent in the literature and as they have just copied the literature there is a gigantic inconsistency in the new checklist as to what is a species (and many bovid splits in the current checklist aren't even supported by data). That there are 4 bird checklists already indicates that there is a need for a higher body that can process all the literature and filter the relevant (and good) studies out, as otherwise we are ending up with everybody using a different checklist and possibly basing their decisions on inaccurate data.
Not quite true regarding the bovid taxonomy: I own Colin and Grove's taxonomic treatise on hoofed mammals, and while you can certainly argue that more data is needed (sample sizes are often small and morphometric methods limited), they are based on data.

I think inherently there are differences in the scientific communities that will probably prevent any sort of cohesive "one size fits all" taxonomic checklist. My general sense is that workers in the field of bird taxonomy are a more cohesive community, and there is more unification and agreement on species concepts, and methods you can use for delimitation in one group transfer easily to another.

The same is not true for mammals. Marine mammal specialists and rodent specialists have zero overlap, and there taxa are so different from one another that considerations and methods for one group are not applicable to others. I think a lot of mammal workers are basically all in there own little areas of specialization that we don't follow what goes on in others (for the most part). And I speak as someone who professionally is a mammal taxonomist.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I have just gotten my order last week, and after some brief looks into its content, I feel the checklist was released too early and that it seems like it didn’t receive the same kind of work and time to develop as done with the birds. There are some species whose distributions don’t show the latest updates (for example, ignoring the fact that Metachirus myosuros was discovered to inhabit also in the eastern Honduras and possibly Guatemala, or having a completely wrong distribution map of Alouatta palliata in Guatemala). Also, I didn't like the omission of country borders in the distribution maps; without them, I find it very difficult to interpret some distributions.

Then there is the issue with the illustrations. For the second volume of the birds checklist (as it has a similar amount of species compared with the two volumes for mammals combined), it is said that they included 642 new illustrations and 1 208 improved ones. But for the mammals checklist, they only included 800 new illustrations. However, a lot, if not all, of the new species added since the original handbooks have illustrations that consist of copies of other species with minor changes in color (the worst example being all the subspecies of Sylvilagus brasiliensis), exact copies of other species with some changes in the positions of the tail or the limbs (as in the genus Philander and Leopardus tigrinus, L. t. oncilla, L. emiliae and L. guttulus), or both (as in the colocolo cats). Fortunately, they did hear the complaints for the primate illustrations and included really improved ones for most of the species. However, the quality in the illustrations for new world monkeys is highly inconsistent: why did they keep the old illustrations of the Callitrichidae with the exception of three species? And for the other families, most of the species are in the same posture (worst example being the first eight howler monkeys). Sadly, new world monkeys didn’t improve as much as the other primates.

And finally, the taxonomy. It is still inconsistent. They kept the bovids as in the original handbook, making a large part of the second volume kind of useless. But there’s also the issue with primates. Most, if not all, primatologists seems to have adopted a very extreme version of the Phylogenetic Species Concept, practically erasing intraspecific variation and subspecies (as for example, in the Callitrichidae, Cheirogaleidae, and Lepilemuridae). And while it is being accepted by the IUCN, the primate section still faces the same problems of the bovids in my opinion. I would have wished they took their time to analyze the evidence for these groups of mammals and presented an accurate list of species.
I think the situation with primates and bovids is completely different. If the majority of workers who specialize in primates follow the PSC, then they should follow the majority opinion. The bovid situation follows a minority opinion that relevant workers are skeptical of, hence why it was a bad idea to follow that precedent.

I am reminded of the MST3K theme song lyric
"It's just a show
I should really just relax"

The line between species is inherently arbitrary: There is no ONE TRUE species concept, they all simply place the cut off point at different places, and have different criteria for what is and isn't a species. Some species concepts that work great for certain groups do poorly for others. BSC is great for birds because birds use criteria in determining mates that are easy for us to analyze and observe: song, display, and color patterns. Mammals...don't, and so BSC is IMHO a much less testable hypothesis for the majority of mammals.
 

T.O.

Well-known member
Not quite true regarding the bovid taxonomy: I own Colin and Grove's taxonomic treatise on hoofed mammals, and while you can certainly argue that more data is needed (sample sizes are often small and morphometric methods limited), they are based on data.

I think inherently there are differences in the scientific communities that will probably prevent any sort of cohesive "one size fits all" taxonomic checklist. My general sense is that workers in the field of bird taxonomy are a more cohesive community, and there is more unification and agreement on species concepts, and methods you can use for delimitation in one group transfer easily to another.

The same is not true for mammals. Marine mammal specialists and rodent specialists have zero overlap, and there taxa are so different from one another that considerations and methods for one group are not applicable to others. I think a lot of mammal workers are basically all in there own little areas of specialization that we don't follow what goes on in others (for the most part). And I speak as someone who professionally is a mammal taxonomist.


That there is data in the Ungulate Taxonomy book (which I also own and have studied in detail) doesn't mean that the data in there supports all the splits, far from it... Many splits (Klipspringers are the easy example) are not supported at all by the data and it is made worse that the relevant analyses (multivariate ones) are not presented and sample size are so incredibly low that even if you find a "significant" difference it doesn't tell you anything. From a data standpoint that book is one of the worst examples out there....
 

T.O.

Well-known member
The line between species is inherently arbitrary: There is no ONE TRUE species concept, they all simply place the cut off point at different places, and have different criteria for what is and isn't a species. Some species concepts that work great for certain groups do poorly for others. BSC is great for birds because birds use criteria in determining mates that are easy for us to analyze and observe: song, display, and color patterns. Mammals...don't, and so BSC is IMHO a much less testable hypothesis for the majority of mammals.

I think we are more or less on the same line here, I don't believe in true species concepts either and would always argue for presenting multiple lines of evidence. The BSC in a way is a good species concept in the sense that if different populations cannot interbreed they for sure should be treated as separate species, unfortunately it isn't that simple and many "good" species are missed. The BSC is very applicable to some mammal groups, there has been some great research on penis shapes in cryptic species groups such as galagos and elephant shrews, greatly increasing the known species counts. Similarly vocalizations (again galagos) and penis shape are very good species indicators for many bats & rodents and other smaller stuff.

My problem with the narrow use of the PSC that has become prevalent is that (apart from ignoring genetics on most cases (which when it is used often gives a different picture)) non-taxonomists are using species as the taxonomic unit to base any decision on, most notably in conservation, but also from a policy perspective. Therefore there is a need to have an independent body that can bring together multiple strands of evidence and make a decision based on evidence, not on what species concept is in fashion, as they are all flawed.

It also seems that to be able to publish scientists will often claim to have found new species (see the recent Gentoo Penguin example) as a way to get more attention and have a larger chance of acceptance, instead of bringing dry facts of genetic differences between populations.
 
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