Fwd: Re: critter names

Margaret K. Thayer mthayer at FIELDMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Oct 10 17:35:17 CDT 2001

A relatively simple way to deal with gender-based name changes in authority
files (as I've done in my own research files) is to have an extra field
that contains the stem of the specific epithet (for adjectival names that
change with the gender of the genus in which they're placed) or the entire
epithet (for names that don't change: patronyms and nouns in
apposition).  A significant advantage of this system is that it allows you
to search for potential homonyms, which numbers certainly don't.  A
disadvantage (to many) is lack of knowledge of how to determine the stem,
but in most cases that's not really too much of a problem -- and you need
some knowledge of that to deal with names anyway.

sample epithets (m, f, n) ----> stem
albus, alba, album ---->  alb
maximus, maxima, maximum ----> maxim
niger, nigra, nigrum ---> nigr
igniventris, igniventris, igniventre  ----> igniventr
transvaalensis, transvaalensis, transvaalense ----> transvaalens
minor, minor, minus  -----> min
forsteri (patronym after a male) ------>  forsteri
hippisleyae (patronym ?matronym after a female) ----> hippisleyae
hokitika (as a noun in apposition) ----> hokitika


At 02:28 PM 10-10-2001 -0700, Doug wrote:

>It's far more than that nowadays. Consider that a great many of us
>now use electronic authority files. ... [stuff deleted]
>What happens is your search comes up empty, because the
>computer doesn't know that things like "igniventris" and "igniventre"
>are effectively the same thing.
>If we hope to use automation to assist in taxonomic information
>management and museum curation, we will continue to suffer as long as
>species epithets can fluctuate...UNLESS we come up with some sort of
>parallel scheme where each species-level taxon is given a unique
>number, which remains intact no matter what happens to the genus and

Margaret K. Thayer      mthayer at fieldmuseum.org     http://www.fmnh.org
Zoology--Insects                                      or
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
PHONE: 312-665-7741 (direct-dial)
FAX: 312-665-7754

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