$pecies names

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Tue Feb 17 13:44:42 CST 1998

At 01:12 PM 02-17-98 -0600, Stuart G. Poss wrote:

>In response to Richard Zander, Thomas G. Lammers wrote:
>> Reputable taxonomists will offer a money-back guarantee.  "If your eponym is
>> reduced to synonymy, or found to be invalid or illegitimate, we will
>> cheerfully refund your donation!"
>> Void where prohibited.
>What will all the irreputable taxonomists who are lured to the field
>with the prospect of now making money at it do?  Will they help
>stabilize the code by ceasing to publish poor quality work or perhaps
>will they set up their own unrefereed journals, and a website to draw in
>customers en masse with discounted prices, while they crank out
>descriptions as quickly as possible?


>Commercialization of nomenclature will create market forces that will
>tend to divide existing expertise and resources not unite them.

Well, I was just having a little fun with the idea, but Zander and Poss do
raise a valid point.  I can see where, if a significant sum of money were on
the line, a taxonomist's judgment could be clouded.  I've often found myself
in a "six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other" situation: yes these populations
COULD be reasonably viewed as a distinct taxon, or just as reasonably not
accorded formal recognition.  In this sort of a draw, why not decide in
favor of the answer that yields much needed research funds.

Frankly, I just don't think the market for eponyms is large enough to
support much abuse.  Neither do I think the intercept of "people who are
qualified to meet the code's requirement for valid publication" (another
argument to retain the requirement for a Latin diagnosis?) and "people of
questionable scruples" is very large.

Perhaps someone familiar with the "name a star for a loved one" racket could

Thomas G. Lammers

Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.

Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:    tlammers at fmnh.org
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317
fax:                312-427-2530
http:    www.fmnh.org/candr/academic_affairs/collection_report/cv_lammers.htm

"There are no uninteresting things;
 there are only uninterested people."
                                  -- G. K. Chesterton

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