Family Group Names

Sections 29 through 31 contain practical information concerning the systematic sections of this book. They are intended not only to facilitate the use of the systematic sections but to indicate what weight should be placed on the various types of content.

The authorship and dating of family-group names of bees were dealt with by Michener (1986a, 1997b) with up-dating by Engel (2005). These names, being coordinate at all levels (subtribe to superfamily), are attributed to the same author and date regardless of their rank and termination [Code, ed. 3, art. 36; see also art. 11(f)ii]. Thus the Megachilini, Megachilinae, and Megachilidae all have the same author and date. It is not customary to cite authors and dates for these names, but for the accepted suprageneric taxa Table 16-1 provides authors' names. For dates and for synonymous or otherwise rejected family-group names, see the three papers cited above.

As noted by Michener (1986a), several of the best-known family-group names of bees would have to be changed if strict priority were to be observed. These names are Colletidae, Paracolletini, Halictidae, Anthidi-ini, and Anthophorini. Opinion 1713 of the Commission (1993) conserved the familiar family-group names, rendering changes unnecessary.

Family-group names based on Dasypoda (a bee) and Dasypus (a mammal) are identical, Dasypodidae. The Commission has ruled that the stem of Dasypoda should be Dasypoda-, so that the family name of the bee would be Dasypodaidae, thus avoiding homonymy with Dasy-podidae, the mammal (Alexander, Michener, and Gardner, 1998).

An extremely unfortunate circumstance is the diversity of meanings for a single name with the same author that can result from our nomenclatural system. The worst example among bees is the various meanings that have been given by different authors to the family name Apidae, as follows:

1. Only the genus Apis = tribe Apini.

2. The corbiculate Apidae, i.e., tribes Apini, Bombini, Euglossini, and Meliponini.

3. The Apinae of the present work.

4. The Apidae of the present work.

6. All L-T bees plus Melittidae.

Most of these meanings can be found in one or another recent work; one does not have to delve into ancient history to find supporters of diverse interpretations. Probably, someone will also use Apidae for all bees plus some or all sphecoid wasps.

Because some rules of nomenclature differ for names at different categorical levels, it is well to remember the three groups of names. Familiar family-group names (and their terminations) are for the categories of subtribe (-ina), tribe (-ini), subfamily (-inae), family (-idae), and superfamily (-oidea). Genus-group names are for the categories of genus and subgenus. Species-group names are for species and subspecies. A taxon can be transferred (up or down) to any level within its group, without a name change except for the endings of family-group names.

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