Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Fri Mar 17 20:14:16 CST 1995

Date sent: 17-MAR-1995
Arthur Chapman makes some *very* interesting suggestions:
 >1. Begin nomenclature anew from the year 2000.  "Freeze" (as already has been
 >mentioned existing names.

I think this would work if we froze existing names for *types*, but not for
taxa; otherwise we are consecrating one set of opinions over all others,
and will creat a burst of otherwise unnecessary nomenclatural action as
those who disagree rush to formalize *their* views (similar to what we
would face in some of the scenarios for doing away with var. and forma).

 >  Forget the historic baggage except where it is of

One place where it is of value is the interpretation of older literature,
so any such system would well preserve whatever synonymy already exists.

 > Get rid of archaic notions of historic priority whereby some obscure
 >name in a long forgotten nursery catalogue can change existing nomenclature
 >or tie up several botanists for weeks while they attempt to get conservation
 >of the existing name.

This is a good idea, as long as we reestablish historic priority for new
names--I can't think of another way to choose between alternatives that
isn't excessively political.  The reforms suggested below should make
priority *much* easier to determine.

 > Reduce the long list of synonyms in publications, many
 >of which carry no value other than to show the diligence of the researcher
 >in looking through obscure historic journals, etc.

Truly, synonymies are most often useful just for nomenclature, but to the
extent that people ever published biology with alternate names, they are
crucial to systematics as a science.

 >2. Develop a system of electronic publication so that new names are
 >immediately available for use.  We cannot afford to wait 20 years for someone
 >to finish a big revision before the names are available.  Many of the new
 >taxa are quite rare - they need to be included in legislation etc. for
 >protection.  Electronic publication of names is not a technical problem -
 >technically it is easy (to also include peer review, etc.).  Consider, for
 >example, an electronic journal, accessible via the internet (or by sending
 >a floppy disc to a node) whereby all new taxa are described (it may be a copy
 >of what goes into a hard copy journal in the host country if that is
 >important).  Some sort of review process occurs, and once approved that it
 >conforms with the "new" code is accepted and the name placed in a dynamic
 >list of accepted names.

I like this a lot.  My one reservation is access: there are still places
in the world that cannot afford computers, much less internet connections,
and many of these places have large numbers of undescribed species.  If we
don't as a community make to commitment to get everyone online in some
fashion, we risk perpetuating "colonialist systematics", or else having
first-worlders shut out of third-world countries that continue to use the
old rules.

 >3. Some form of "interim name" formulae be set up - it could be a number
 >system or it could be something like what is used by Botanists in Australia. e.g

Please expand on this system; is it formalized at all?  I have done
similar things informally.

Curtis Clark                                       Voice: (909) 869-4062
Biological Sciences Department                     FAX:   (909) 869-4396
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Pomona CA 91768-4032                               jcclark at

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