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Published: 2018-12-20

Reflections on the growing use of sounds in systematics and synecology: why an acoustic signal cannot become an onomatophore

Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 50, Entomologie, F-75005, Paris, France
INCI, UPR 3212 CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, 5 rue Blaise Pascal, 67084 Strasbourg, France
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 50, Entomologie, F-75005, Paris, France Laboratório de História Natural de Anfíbios Brasileiros (LaHNAB), Departamento de Biologia Animal, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, 13083-862, Brazil
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 50, Entomologie, F-75005, Paris, France
bioacoustics sounds taxonomy nomenclature onomatophores behaviour


Acoustic signals are widely used by both terrestrial and aquatic animals to communicate, and bioacoustics is increasingly used to survey natural, acoustically active communities. More and more acoustic data are made available and await being used in public sound libraries; these data have proved a valuable tool in various fields ranging from ecology to integrative taxonomy. The temptation may exist to use acoustic data to formally describe new taxa by the sole acoustic productions of unseen specimens, forcing a ‘sound-based taxonomy’ on traditional taxonomy. We review the limitations of this practice.


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