First International Phylogenetic Nomenclature Meeting, Paris 2004

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jul 4 14:04:48 CDT 2003

Whether or not Phylocode succeeds or fails will depend almost entirely on
whether substantial numbers of practicing taxonomists/systematists find it
to be a useful tool for communicating information relevant to their
discoveries, ideas, and hypotheses.  The exact same thing can be said about
IC_N nomenclatural systems.

There is a legitimate argument that the mere attempt to establish Phylocode
may cause tremendous damage and confusion.  I believe that the Phylocode
framers can eviscerate the legitimacy of such arguments with a few simple
steps contained within the PhyloCode itself (e.g., a *mandatory* inclusion
of some sort of symbol embedded directly within all Phylocode names -- a
feature that would be beneficial beyond just mitigation of confusion with
Linnaean-based names).  If they refuse to take such steps to allow both
systems to exist in (perhaps awkward?) harmony, I believe the chances for
its success and adoption by sufficient numbers of practicing taxonomists is
diminished, and the potential for the aforementioned damage and confusion

Similarly, ceaseless drum-beating by the Phylocode detractors does not help
the situation either.  I believe that the Phylocode was developed from a
sincere perceived need for a more effective information dissemination
protocol than what is available via traditional Linnaean nomenclature.  I
further believe that by shifting away from the use of Linnaean nomenclature
as a tool to communicate purely phylogenetic hypotheses, a greater level of
stability can be restored to the Linnaean nomenclature (thereby benefiting
traditional taxonomists).

Although I still maintain that a mutually beneficial (to practitioners of
both nomenclatural systems) is indeed possible; after reading recent posts
on this and other lists, I am increasingly convinced that it is exceedingly
unlikely.  Shame.


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG]On Behalf Of
> Richard Jensen
> Sent: Friday, July 04, 2003 4:17 AM
> Subject: Re: First International Phylogenetic Nomenclature Meeting,
> Paris 2004
> Quoting Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>:
>  Civilized men, gentlemen, always make the same mistake.
> > They
> > consider reason and diplomacy as a first option - not forceful action.
> > Nice guys really do finish last in everything that requires strong
> > play.
> You are quite the cynic, Ron.  Unfortunately, when it comes to
> some matters,
> you may be right.
> However, I have always believed, as Abe Lincoln (and others)
> said, the "Right
> makes might," not vice-versa.  And, according to my understanding
> from reading
> a discussion of the original attribution, critical punctuation
> and words are
> missing.  Apparently the "Nice guys finish last" quote should
> appear in print
> as: "They're nice guys; but they'll finish last."  Personally, I
> don't believe
> that nice guys finish last is an axiomatic truth.  Of course it
> happens, but
> it does not mean that we have to be rude, boorish, dishonest, uncivilized,
> etc. to "win" the game.
> I do agree that those opposed to Phylcode becoming, as a fait
> accompli, the
> perceived wisdom of today's taxonomists and systematists must make their
> opposition known and must present well-reasoned commentaries to
> express their
> collective views.  The majority of us employ ICBN/ICZN and we
> must continue to
> insist that these be the standard for nomenclatural propriety.
> We can do this
> in our roles as educators, researchers, reviewers, editors, and
> spokesmen for
> our discipline.  We can insist that nomenclatural priority be
> given to names
> published according to the currently accepted rules.
> We do need to step up now and let the public know that the
> coming "implementation" of the phylocode has nothing to do with
> the accepted
> rules of nomenclature.
> And, we can accomplish this through civilized, reasoned discourse.
> Cheers,
> Dick

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