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Species Concepts and Foraminifera
E. Ann Butler (2)
Foraminiferal species are widely used throughout the world as stratigraphical index fossils and ecological indicators, but in the subsurface Oligocene-Miocene section of south Louisiana their commercial importance is unequaled. As a result of their widespread use and importance, more than 20,000 names for Recent and fossil species, subspecies and varieties of Foraminifera exist in the literature today.
The naming of new species and the splitting and reclassifying of old species, genera and families has created considerable taxonomic confusion which is of great concern to many paleontologists. Several authors recommend that taxonomists adopt the goal of consolidating the many foraminiferal species into a smaller number in order to rectify the existing chaotic situation. However, before further taxonomic revision of this group is attempted, it must be pointed out that as yet no entirely satisfactory definition of fossil species has been formulated and that several species concepts applicable to Foraminifera are presently in use. Two principal concepts, the typological and biological, serve as theoretical bases for most taxonomic work today. These two concepts and the problems associated with each are discussed.
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