Basionym/Protologue -- One more question

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jun 28 14:56:46 CDT 2002

> BUT, Schmertz's pub is the protologue, not Schmuggle's.

I follow all that.....but which one is the *Basionym* tied to?

Here's the specific situation I'm wrestling with:

I'm looking for a *single* instance of a Name-Reference combination (one
name, one reference) that represents the "official" (ICBN/ICZN) point at
which time the name becomes officially "available" or "valid" or whatever
word(s) you want to use to indicate when the name becomes citable for
taxonomic use.  In my specific context, I want this Name-Reference
combination to be the source of the *Basionym*, such that to derive the
proper Basionym attributes (e.g., generic placement, spelling, authorship
details, year), I need only look at this particular instance of a
Name-Reference combination.

The earlier discussion on Taxacom focused on what label I should assign to
this special (basionym-bearing) Name-Reference combination.  I originally
planned to use "Basionym" (for obvious reasons), but compelling rationale
was provided by many list members to use the word "Protolog[ue]" instead.
The reason I favored "Protologue" over "Basionym", was because the actual
records in this table point to Name-Reference combinations; and "Basionym"
seems to be a term tied more closely to just the "Name" part; whereas
"Protologue" had more specific implications for a Name-Reference entity
(i.e., implied circumscription of a name, as well as the name).

However, I have come to learn that a "Protologue" might be spread over
multiple References, the most meaningful of which is the latest-published,
whereupon the name becomes officially (ICBN) available for use in taxonomy.

Because I'm looking for a label to assign to a *single* instance of a
one-to-one Name-Reference combination, "Protologue" seems like it might not
be the correct term, if that term could actually apply to something that
spans multiple references.

The word "Basionym" (as I understand it), however can be traced to one and
only one Reference (i.e., cannot be split among more than one reference).
Since a big part of the function of the table in question is to allow me to
look up Basionym attributes, then it's starting to make more sense for me to
refer to this table as "Basionym".

If I can be absolutely assured that the *single* reference in which the
Basionym is established, can also (in virtually all cases) be legitimately
thought of as the "Protologue" (for example, if the Basionym-bearing
reference always coincides with the final reference in a multi-reference
Protologue), then I will stick with the word "Protologue".

If it's not that straightforward, then I'll probably revert to using
"Basionym" instead of "Protologue".

Actually, if I understand things correctly, the "Basionym" constitutes more
than simply the string of characters that is the original full name: it also
includes author(s) and year. In other words, when you record the Basionym,
there is one correct representation of authorship and year that is
inexorably connected with that Basionym.  Is this correct?

If so, then I probably will revert to using the term "Basionym" instead of
"Protologue", because I define a "Reference" as a "Date-stamped Authorship";
and as such, if the complete Basionym is "Genus species Author Year", then
that's precisely what I have (i.e., a Name-Reference combination).

I apologize for continuing to dwell on what must seem to be a heinously
trivial detail; but in my context, it is not so trivial at all.


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at
"The opinions expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those
of Bishop Museum."

More information about the Taxacom mailing list