Status of the Biocode

B.J.Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Wed Feb 5 12:52:55 CST 2003

At 12:03 4.2.2003 -1000, Richard Pyle wrote:
Since the concept of "registration" which was discussed in the BioCode also
incorporates the bacteriological concept I think this is easy to clarify.
If you register a name you can only register the "name". In essence this
means that you will have a central register where you can look up all the
names which the code currently recognises. It says absolutely nothing about
whether species "A" and species "B" should be united into one, nor does it
say that "my concept" of species or genera is the right one to follow. This
means that such a list will also contain synonyms.

The second problem relates to what names you register. In bacteriology we
came to the conclusion that the literature was full of names which could
not be associated with types or meaningful descriptions could be "removed"
from the system - as many as possible of the names have been catalogued,
but they are effectively not being used. In such a system one has to fix a
"new starting date" (i.e. 01.01.2005), BUT you can, of course include on
your list any names which have a publication date prior to that date AND
refer to the original work (i.e. you would not loose Linneaus). There were
even one or two synonyms on our "original lists" (which have a starting
date of 1.1.1980) If you miss anything you can always add it at a later
date. This gave us the chance to save as much of the past work which was
useful and free ourseleves of a lot of material which was just causing
problems. Zoology and botany may have other needs.

The third problem is that there is a tendancy for end users to mix up
"registered names" and "registered taxonomic concepts/circumscriptions"
(which, of course do not exist in our system). This also also Richard's point.

The BioCode is explicit, as is the Bacteriological Code.

I have to disagree with Richard on the topic of Species 2000 (and perhaps
other lists). My contact with this group indicates that the lists should
contain only one name per species (i.e. synonyms are not anticipated in the
system). I think what the end user community is asking taxonomy for at
present is to tell them which of the 5 synonyms which have appeared in the
last 250 years is the "proper" one to use.


>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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