registration of names

Joseph Kirkbride jkirkbri at ASRR.ARSUSDA.GOV
Thu Mar 5 13:08:19 CST 1998

I believe that I have told this story before, but I will tell it again
for a new group of "listeners".

At the Nomenclature Section of the Berlin Botanical Congress, the concept
of registration was discussed.  The thrust of the discussion was how to
insure that all new names would be known, and therefore available, in the

Two ideas were presented: 1) registration of names and 2) registration of
journals.  Apparently the practicing botanists were more interested in
registering names, and the indexers were more interested in registering
journals.  So two committees were set up, one for each topic, to report
to the Tokyo Botanical Congress.

In Europe and North America, the idea of journal registration was more or
less accepted with reservations.  Outside of those two areas, it was
greeted with a fire storm of opposition.  Many botanists publish in local
journals which have restricted distributions in Europe and North
America.  They considered journal registration as simply a way to stop
their publishing!  Fortunately the committee stopped functioning, and
disappeared under the weight of criticism.

One of my former associates, now retired, was appointed Secretary of the
committee on registration of names.  He actively corresponded with the
committee members, and solicited proposals for how registration should be
implemented.  The response ranged from nil to ten pages single spaced.
One person proposed numerous changes in the ICBN to impose an extrememly
complicated system.  A minority wanted a draconian system which would
propose a time limit on registration.  If a name was not registered in
five years or less (the time periods proposed varied), it would not
exist.  There were various proposals as to what its standing would be:
could be reused or could not be reused.

The simplest, least draconian idea was presented at the Tokyo Botanical
Congress.  This is that registration be a condition of validity just like
all of the other conditions for validity.  No one's name(s) would be
proscribed because they were unable to carry out a particular act.  As now,
when all conditions of vaildity are met, the name will have priority.

In the Nomenclature Section, a simple majority approved registration of
names, but not the 60% required for passage.  The proposal was made (for
the first time in history) that it be approved conditionally, i.e., it
will become affective 1 January 2000 only if voted on again and
approved at St. Louis.

After the Berlin Botanical Congress, the registration of names was
divided in two.  The committee appointed at the Berlin Congress was
charged only with regsitration of new names, i.e., those names published
after 1 January 2000.  A third committee was set up to deal with
"registration" of old names, i.e., those published before 1 January
2000.  The third registration committee is the one which presented the
proposals dealing with names in current use.

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service
Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory
Room 304, Building 011A, BARC-West
Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350 USA
Voice telephone: 301-504-9447
FAX: 301-504-5810
Internet: jkirkbri at

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