unique numbers for species

Thu Oct 11 15:29:55 CDT 2001

>>>>From: Markku Savela [mailto:msa at BURP.TKV.ASDF.ORG]
Why numbers? Why not just use the "the unique identifier" which
already exists: the original published name with author and year.<<<

Because as soon as someone splits the species into two, you have two taxa
with identical identifier.  For example, what was once called Traill's
Flycatcher is now Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher.  It's bad enough
that much of the old literature is now ambiguous as to which species it
refers.  If we kept both species as the same original name as identifier,
all future literature would also be ambiguous.  And data retrieval would
bring up a mishmash of both species.  And any other reason for maintaining a
unique identifier wouldn't work, because identifiers no longer have a 1:1
correspondence to taxa.

Robin K Panza                         panzar at carnegiemuseums.org
Collection Manager, Section of Birds          ph:  412-622-3255
Carnegie Museum of Natural History       fax: 412-622-8837
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh  PA  15213-4008  USA

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