pp 1–8 | Cite as

What is in a genus name? Conceptual and empirical issues preclude the proposed recognition of Callibella (Callitrichinae) as a genus

  • Guilherme S. T. GarbinoEmail author
  • José E. Serrano-Villavicencio
  • Eliécer E. Gutiérrez
Original Article


In a recent article, Silva et al. (Zool Scr 47:133–143, 2018) proposed the relocation of the dwarf marmoset, Mico humilis, to the so far unrecognized genus Callibella. We contend that a taxonomic scheme that recognizes Callibella as if it were a valid genus is inadequately supported, and to some extent contradicted, by the ecological and morphological information provided by the authors. We discuss why the criterion of sympatry, invoked by Silva et al. to justify the recognition of Callibella at the genus level, is uninformative for taxonomic decisions above the species level. We also show that the morphological characteristics used by Silva et al. to separate Mico humilis from the other Mico are individually variable and present in every analyzed species of the genus. Moreover, we demonstrate that the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) metric, employed by those authors to attempt to justify their taxonomic proposition, makes no sense in a taxonomic context. Conceptually, the use of autapomorphies and plesiomorphies to justify using Callibella goes against one of the main objectives of a meaningful classification, that is, to allow for all kinds of inferences based on previous observations (i.e., to be inductively projectible). Based on these arguments, we demonstrate that regarding Callibella as a subgenus of Mico is the most suitable way of making the Linnean taxonomy of marmosets congruent with the phylogenetic information available for the group.


Classification Dwarf marmoset Genus concept Mico humilis Subgenus Taxonomy 



We are thankful to Maria Nazareth F. da Silva and Manoela Borges (INPA), Luis Fabio Silveira, Mario de Vivo and Juliana Gualda (MZUSP), Sergio Maia Vaz and João Oliveira (MNRJ), and José de Souza e Silva Juníor (MPEG) for allowing us to examine specimens under their care. Daniel Casali provided very useful comments and suggestions. We are also grateful to Felipe E. Silva and Rodrigo Araújo for providing information on their article about Mico humilis and to Janet Buckner for providing us with the tree files of her Callitrichinae phylogeny. Two anonymous referees provided helpful comments. This study was funded in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Brazil (CAPES; Code 001).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (NWK 3 kb)
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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guilherme S. T. Garbino
    • 1
    Email author
  • José E. Serrano-Villavicencio
    • 2
    • 3
  • Eliécer E. Gutiérrez
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Pós-graduação, Mastozoologia, Museu de ZoologiaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Centro de Investigación Biodiversidad Sostenible (BioS), Calle Francisco de ZelaLimaPeru
  4. 4.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Centro de Ciências Naturais e ExatasUniversidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  5. 5.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

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