Code and nomenclature

Lammers lammers at FMNH785.FMNH.ORG
Wed Jan 10 11:04:47 CST 1996

It has been my experience that those who carp loudest about the inordinate
amount of time required to comply with the provisions of botanical
nomenclature are those who are least well versed in the Code.  Once a
practicing taxonomist has achieved a modicum of competency with the Code,
and no longer has to search it page by page for each question that arises,
it no longer is so terribly time consuming.  If you think the current
system takes time to figure out, just try upsetting the applecart totally
a la Peter Stevens proposal, and see how much time we spend running in
circles and chasing our own tails!

On a related note, it occurred to me that what is needed is a guide to
using the Code, organized according to various tasks taxonomists do.
For example, one section might deal with how to select the correct name
from a list of names that pertain to a given taxon.  In a step-by-step
fashion, the user would be directed to check a number of things (publi-
cation dates, etc.), with full cross-referencing to appropriate chapter-
and-verse in the Code.  Another might be directed to determining
whether or not a given name is validly published or not, and if so, is
it legitimate.  This could even take the form of a dichotomous key:

1. Name effectively published  ... 2
1. Name not effectively published.           etc.

Yet another portion of the guide might deal with determining the status of type specimens.

Something along this line formed ch. 13 of Lyman Benson's *Plant Taxonomy:
Methods and Principles" (1962).  It seems to me that a guide of this nature,
written more in a discussion or "cookbook" form instead of the Code's
legal-ese, would be a major boon to everyone.

Thomas G. Lammers
Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago IL 60605-2496 USA

lammers at

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