Registration (was: TurboTaxonomy?)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Aug 25 09:22:06 CDT 2004

> Did not the authors of the new ICZN Code (4th edition) anticipate
> some kind
> of registration when they wrote the new Article 79 on "List of
> Available Names
> in Zoology"? Isn't it a logical necessity that there should be
> two elements:
> first a list of existing available names AND second some sort of
> registration
> for new names (updates)?

Though I think this Article has been the subject of some controversey, it
does indeed help "set the stage" for Code-mandated registration of sorts.  I
think the "Electronic Registration" of taxonomic names would necessarily
involve a GUID (which Art. 79 doesn't cover), and also would apply equally
to historical names (List of Available Names), and to newly created names.
However, I think it would be a mistake to include only the Code-"Available"
names (as Listed according to Art. 79), and ignore all "Unavailable" names
that have historically been used at one time or another as though they were
available (with appropriate fields detailing their unavailability).

For an example of how Art. 79 can be implemented, check out the CAS
"Annotated Checklists of Fishes":

The first article in this series is an Introduction by Bill Eschmeyer, which
discusses the idea behind this series of publications in the context of
Article 79 of the ICZN Code:

> As for the terminology: the IZCN Code already had and still has the terms
> "Official Indexes" (for rejected works and names) and "Official
> Lists" (for
> individual works and names made available by Opinions) which
> obviously should not
> be confused with the new term used in Art. 79 "List of Available Names".

As each of these terms has a very specific meaning, none of which accurately
encompases what I envision as a "Registration" system, I still prefer the

> ... and...while we're again discussing this issue, the lists of names in
> GBIF, ITIS, UBIO are growing and growing. UBIO seems to have a
> plan to complete
> it's name server down to genus level in the course of this year,
> and they have a
> "Memorandum of Cooperation" with GBIF. So, can we expect that this part of
> the work will be done in the near future??? Is this realistic?

I think it depends on how you define "Done".  In my mind, the Genus-group
and Species-group names encompassed by the Catalog of Fishes
( are "Done" to the
minimum extent that it would need to be to get those names "Registered".
That is, each name includes full citation details for the original
description, annotations about authorships and publication dates where
necessary, information about Type locality and Primary & Secondary types.
As a bonus, it also includes about a half-dozen (on average) "Status
records"  -- indications of how certain major taxonomic works treated each
name over time.  This latter feature I think should be tightly integrated
(but not necessarily mandated for name registration) in whatever system is
developed.  There are, of course, other databases with equally robust
associated data for each name; but unfortunately, I think the vast majority
of names on the large lists you cite do not have full details (e.g., often
just Author/Year, without citation details for the original description).

> At least in my recent test searches I still found many names  which are
> obviously not Code-compliant and it was not difficult to detect
> misspellings and
> even homonymies among family-group names. Why not make sure that
> at least the
> minimum Code requirements are met before any name is listed in GBIF and
> associated websites?

As I said before, I think the non-Code-compliant names that have at one time
or another been used as though they were Code-compliant names ought to be
included, but clearly flagged as such.

> These online databases will serve as a major
> source for many
> users of taxonomic names, so mistakes could even be
> counter-productive in solving
> the "names problem"... So I'm just wondering: do the Code
> Commissions have an
> official "contract" (incl. financial support) within the GBIF (and allied)
> projects?

Not to my knowledge.

> Is there a chance that the Code Commissions will be
> strengthened in this process?

In my view, ABSOLUTELY!  If I had time to Rant, I would go on and on about
how the Codes of nomenclature, and the basic functions of the organizations
that maintain them, have been GROSSLY under-appreciated by the biological
community in general.  They are to the field of Taxonomy, what the field of
taxonomy is to the rest of biology (i.e., highly neccessary, fundamentally
crucial, and taken for granted).


More information about the Taxacom mailing list