The genus Erythrolamprus Boie (1826) comprises six species of Central and South American false coral snakes (Peters & Orejas-Miranda 1970; Zaher 1999; Curcio et al. 2009). It is traditionally allocated in the tribe Xenodontini (subfamily Xenodontinae), along with the genera Liophis, Lystrophis, Umbrivaga, Waglerophis and Xenodon (sensu Dixon 1980; Cadle 1984; Myers 1986; Ferrarezzi 1994; Zaher 1999). Although Xenodontini is supported by morphological and molecular evidence, phylogenetic relationships and classification within the tribe have been the subject of recent debate. Molecular phylogenetic studies have recovered clades with Erythrolamprus nested within some representatives of the genus Liophis (Vidal et al. 2000; Zaher et al. 2009), partly corroborating previous hypotheses based on morphology (e.g. Dixon 1980). Vidal et al.’s (2000) and Zaher et al.’s (2009) sampling of taxa of Erythrolamprus and Liophis is far from comprehensive, each including five species of traditional Liophis (only one of which is common to the two studies) and one species of Erythrolamprus. Based on their phylogenetic results, the two studies have distinct postures from a taxonomic point of view; Vidal et al. (2000) only discussed paraphyly of Liophis with respect to Erythrolamprus, whereas Zaher et al. (2009) proposed formal synonymization of Erythrolamprus under Liophis despite a recognized lack of supporting morphological evidence.
Zaher et al.’s (2009) taxonomic action is incorrect because Erythrolamprus Boie, 1826 has priority over Liophis Wagler, 1830. Reversal of precedence is not applicable in this case because it does not meet the conditions set by articles 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (hereafter the Code; ICZN 1999). Further, attribution of Liophis to Boie (1826) is also incorrect because this genus was established by Wagler (1830). Beyond the priority of Erythrolamprus, we believe that taxonomic changes in any direction would be premature. In our view, this particular systematic problem is too complex to be solved by simple synonymization based on the results of phylogenetic analyses including no more than five Liophis species (Vidal et al. 2000; Zaher et al. 2009). The genus Liophis is rather diverse, and the relationships between the more than 40 species it includes [excluding the taxa reallocated to Lygophis and Caaeteboia by Zaher et al. (2009)] remain largely unknown (Dixon 1980; Fernandes et al. 2003).
It can be argued that in proposing taxonomic changes based on phylogenetic evidence, Article 42.3 of the Code should be followed, i.e., application of genus-group names should be determined by reference to type species. The type species of Liophis, L. cobellus (=Coluber cobella Linnaeus, 1758; see Williams & Wallach 1989) does not figure in either of the molecular studies mentioned herein (Vidal et al. 2000; Zaher et al. 2009). Moreover, the type species of Erythrolamprus (=Coluber venustissimus Wied-Neuwied, 1821) is presently considered a subspecies of the E. aesculapii complex, and is one of several taxa in the genus in need of redefinition. The absence of type species in Vidal et al.’s (2000) and Zaher et al.’s (2009) sampling prevents an objective conclusion being drawn from their phylogenies regarding the precise nomenclatural relationship of Liophis and Erythrolamprus.......
圖片連結: Reptiles Database (photo credit: M. Natera), snakesofcolombia.com (photo credit: JH. Maldonado)