John McNeill johnmn at COMPUSERVE.COM
Fri May 29 13:17:13 CDT 1998

Dear Dr Morrone:

You wrote:

>Manmeet Singh > =

>I agree with you that only uniform provisions are necessary. Special
provisions for >some groups will make the Code useless.

While I agree with your philosophy I would really appreciate your
suggestions as to how the BioCode should in fact deal with an issue such =
tautonymy.  It is an axiom of the International Committee on
Bionomenclature that the development of the BioCode should not lead to
changes in existing scientific names - or only in rare situations.  You
probably saw my earlier posting  to TAXACOM on this topic (in case you di=
not it is appended below); please suggest how Art. 31.2 of the Draft
BioCode may be reworded to meet your concern, yet not lead to changes in
literally hundreds of names of extremely common and widespread plant
species (remembering that rules on the form of names are inherently
retroactive in applicability).

John McNeill

  John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum, =

  100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
  [Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744]  e-mail: johnm at

  From 19 April - 5 June 1998: at Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row,
  Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland, UK.  Fax: +44-131-248-2901
  E-mail will be forwarded, but replies will be from johnmn at
  Urgent telephone number: +44-131-248-2855

My earlier response on this topic:

"Uniform provisions covering the major nomenclatural principles are indee=
essential if the BioCode is to be effective.  I believe that the Draft
BioCode substantially achieves this - it certainly prescribes a common
approach in the two areas of major difference among the Codes (co-ordinat=
status in the family, genus and species groups, and the concept of
secondary homonomy unique to the zoological code - see  McNeill, J.  1997=
=2E =

Key issues to be addressed.  In: D.L. Hawksworth (ed.),  The new
bionomenclature: the BioCode debate.  Biology International Special Issue=

34: 17-40. (contact iubs at on availability).." =

"Although, as a botanist, I wish tautonyms had never been prohibited, to
permit tautonyms in plant names now would involve an enormous degree of
instability.  Moreover, contrary to Manmeet Singh's suggestion, this is n=
an issue in which it is easy to provide a common rule even for the future=

"True, if I describe a new plant genus, Manmeetius say, then there is no
real reason for me not to be permitted to call one of its new species
Manmeetius manmeetius - but this is a rare phenomenon.  The common
situation where the possiblity of an autonym arises is in taking up
epithets based on old generic names, e.g. Linnaeus described the almost
cosmopolitan common reed as Arundo Phragmites; to-day the species is
considered to belong to the genus Phragmites."

"Clearly we must continue to prohibit in the future the taking up of the
tautonym Phragmites phragmites (because of the enormous number of  name
changes that would be involved).  So what could be permitted in the futur=
 Only, I would suppose, a tautonym formed from a NEW generic name.  This
would certainly be possible but it would cover such a rare situation, tha=
I wonder if the total prohibition of tautonyms in names of botanical taxa=

is not simpler to remember - even if it is a small breach in the uniformi=
that both Manmeet Singh and the International Committee on Bionomenclatur=

John McNeill =

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