unpublished names - narrowing the scope

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Wed Oct 22 09:21:11 CDT 2003

Guido Mathieu wrote:

>It seems however that the expression 'unpublished names' does not
>mean the same to everyone. The preliminary 'working' names or the
>'privately used' names in personal notes, memos, correspondenceĀŠ and
>the so called 'common names' (already included in some databases)
>are not a real taxonomic problem. They can 'scientifically' be
>ignored (or they can be switched 'on or off' as suggested). But we
>are faced also with a number of herbarium specimens (this means it
>concerns a particular plant and not 'just' a name), deposited in
>public herbaria, which were given a new name, often by a 'real'
>authority concerning the genus, who mentions his name (as the
>'future' author of the new taxon) and the addition sp. nov. / type,
>while it never came to any published description. I understand very
>well the thesis 'Don't cite these names, we have difficulties enough
>with the published ones' but I'm not sure whether ignoring these
>botanical entities (by not using their names) is a good 'scientific'
>approach. In the genus Peperomia it concerns 7% of the 3000
>published taxa and I can assure you, they are worth talking about...
>There has been a suggestion to give the kind of unpublished names
>I'm talking about here, the status of 'nomen nudum'.

Technically, unless these names were published, they cannot be nomina
nuda. Yours is not a unique problem - in my area of expertise (bees),
two of the most prolific authors in the last 100 years, P.H.
Timberlake and J.S. Moure, routinely assigned names to *and often
designated types for* every new species they discovered, WITHOUT
waiting for publication. As a result, there are probably close to 100
bee taxa in collections around the world with labels on them
containing names that never made it into print. When these names have
been cited (which is rarely), it is simply as a "manuscript name"; a
category which has no formal status in the Code, but which everyone
seems to have no trouble understanding. Such names are definitely
worth keeping track of; in one case, I helped describe one of Moure's
unpublished species, and we used Moure's epithet - partially out of
respect, since he *did* recognize it as a new species, and partially
on the off chance that if there were other specimens out there
somewhere with Moure's name on them, at least people would have an
easier time making the connection between those specimens and the
name that we published.

Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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