critter names

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Thu Oct 11 19:28:39 CDT 2001


Ron Gatrelle wrote:

> 2)  My main thought was on all
> "world genera known and unknown"  which is the valid point in there.  If
> one is going to assign random numbers for cataloging and inventory it
> should be done is such a way from the start that the same number = biotic
> entity is globally standardized.

That depends on what you mean by "biotic entity".  This is where it becomes
critical to distinguish taxon "names" from biological taxon "groups".  My
feeling is that the numbers (and global catalog) should be about "names",
not about biological entities (i.e., circumscriptions of names). Names are
objective - they have a single original description, and are anchored to the
biological world through a single primary type (assuming that eventually all
names based on syntypes eventually become anchored to a single neotype or
lectotype). These are the entities (names) that we ought to catalog.  A
second layer of effort is the mapping of those names to actual populations
of critters and weeds beyond the primary types - the business of
circumscriptions.  This can also be centralized with respect to listing all
the "assertions" about the broader definition of the names, the assertions
themselves being objective entities (representing a particular subjective
interpretation by a taxonomist about the scope of a given taxon name). But
that's a whole 'nother topic of discussion in itself.  What we need to work
on first is a phone-book of just the names tied to their original
descriptions and, ideally, their types (in the case of genera, that would be
type species, rather than type specimens).

> It will have to be done sooner or later.
> Putting more man hours in now would seem to translate to less man hours
> later to re-do everything or adjust something.

Agreed!

Aloha,
Rich




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