Status of the Biocode

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Tue Feb 4 12:03:40 CST 2003

There seem to be two persistent and distinctly different notions of the word
"Registration" in the context of taxonomic names that keep recurring on this
list (and other discussion venues).  I would like to take this opportunity
to clarify this distinction, and request that only ONE of these different
notions henceforth be associated with the "R" word, and the other adopt some
other moniker.  I make this request in the interest of avoiding a lot of
unnecessary argument between adversaries who don't realize that they arguing
about different things.

One notion of "Registration" seems to involve the circumscription of a
taxon.  That is, when a name gets "Registered", the very act of registration
confers some sort of official "status" on the name.  I *think* this is the
sort of Registration that Jim alludes to below, and if so, he and I are in
agreement.  Any sort of effort to use "Registration" as a venue to in any
way standardize taxonomic concepts, and assert "official" validity of names,
will ultimately meet with resistance, and failure.

The other notion of "Registration" is limited to only the registration of
*names* -- without any baggage of taxonomic concept (i.e. validity) tied to
it.  This is the sort of Registration that (I think) Doug Yanega has
proposed and described on this list, and is the sort of registration that I
go along with.  The idea is to provide for a registry of taxonomic *names*,
such that basic details relevant to those names (original description
reference citation, primary type location, etc.) are freely and easily
available to all.  Such a registration system would not involve any notion
of "current" or "prevailing" usage, and any historical name that has ever
been established within the context of the relevant IC_N code could be added
to the registry.  Names that are currently regarded as synonyms would be
registered in exactly the same way as names that happen to be currently
regarded as valid.

It is the latter of these two notions of "Registration" that has my support.
I envision that future version(s) of the IC_N Codes or conglomerate BioCode
would require all subsequent NEW names proposed after 200X (or should I say
20XX?) to be registered in order to be officially "available"; but that all
previous names would be available for registration any time some taxonomist
found the time and effort to do so.  Many of the older names could be
wholesale "registered" en masse from the various catalogs that have already
been started (e.g., BIOSIS, IPNI, ITIS, Species2000, Catalog of Fishes,
etc.), and other old names would be added to the registry as taxonomists
uncovered them and determined their relevant details (primary type, original
description citation details, etc...).

So please ... before the next debate about "Registration" begins ... try to
be clear about which notion of "Registration" you are referring to before
you explain why you either support it or reject it.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG]On Behalf Of Jim
> Croft
> Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 11:04 AM
> Subject: Re: Status of the Biocode
> >Hi Jim: Tthe names in any {botanical] list start at 1753 -- but "current"
> >is current, i.e the taxonomy of 2003 -- what am I misunderstanding?  John
> >McNeill
> and
>  > Yes, Jim, yet dates for such 'current use' vary from 1753
> onwards according
>  > to whether we are talking Angiospermae, Pteridophyta, Araneae, (other)
>  > Animalia, Bacteria, Viruses, etc. The Biocode doesn't intend
> to change this
>  > but aims at unifying biological (binominal) nomenclature.  Thomas Pape
> It wasn't a comment on the proposed biocode as such, which I think is a
> good idea... one that I will probably never live to see...  it was a
> comment on lists of names in current use that seem to get swept along with
> the biocode, along with approval, registration, acceptable taxonomy,
> centralization, control and all the rest of it...  I do not want to lose
> old names, concepts and and the information that may have been attached to
> them, and for some I guess emotional reason I want to know what a species
> was called when it was first recognized and to still be able to call it by
> that name...  the priority principles of the current codes seem to be able
> to provide some level  of that sort of predictability, comfort and
> security... :)
> jim
> ~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at ~ 02-62465500 ~ ~

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