"selling names"

Tue Jan 25 21:10:39 CST 2000

The Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, has a program called the Nature Discovery Fund that was launched in December 1998, partly to make money for a biosystematics fund, but mainly to promote systematics. (Dr. Bob Anderson was describing new species from South America anyway, so it did not seem unreasonable to try promoting taxonomy and biodiversity to the public by offering a name in exchange for a donation). 

Interestingly, the first bug to be "sponsored" was by the novelist Margaret Atwood. She donated for a weevil to be named after her father, who was an entomologist (a little known fact to some biologists!).  Being televised and on radio, this event, if briefly, brought home systematics to (at least some) Canadians. If your are curious, have a look at http://www.nature.ca/english/natfunde.htm
or http://www.nature.ca/francais/natfundf.htm. This fund is never going to make millions, but maybe it is not necessarily a bad idea. It will be interesting to see how the feedback is. If misused, of course, problems might occur.

Minerals are not included in this fund, because payment for names is unethical in the field of mineralogy (because of commercial value).

If a taxon were named for a donor before it went extinct, the benefit of biodiversity studies, and results of habitat destruction, might become more visible (personal). (The name would still be in perpetuity).

As far as potential synonymy of a name, contracts could be drawn up if the donation price was high enough.  (Alternatively, the contribution could be considered like a stock market investment, with all the inherent risks. Picture folks following taxonomy and nomenclature (as well as their mutual fund reports) to see whether their name is still unsynonymized!) 

Laurie Consaul

Laurie L. Consaul
Research Division, Canadian Museum of Nature
Box 3443, Station D, Ottawa, ON, Canada
(613) 364-4074, Fax 364-4027

>>> Neal Evenhuis <neale at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG> 01/24/00 09:56PM >>>
>A species is never synonymized, a name is.   It would be important only if
>"your" name was a junior synonym.
>If it is a senior synonym, it sticks.

Touche --

However, philosophically speaking, a species can be synonymized if it
dies out, say, due to human intervention. Then it becomes synonymous
with "extinct".


Neal Evenhuis

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