Registration (was: TurboTaxonomy?)

Faunaplan at AOL.COM Faunaplan at AOL.COM
Mon Aug 30 02:57:00 CDT 2004

Thanks to Richard Pyle  for providing the links to the calacademy ichthyology
website! (Again I'm deeply impressed by the wonderful pioneer work presented
by that team!)

I'd like to comment on two points in Richard Pyle's and Brian Tindall's
recent responses in this thread:
1) Unavailable Names
On 25.08.04, Richard Pyle wrote:
>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).<

I doubt that the total of such names could ever be "registered" since only a
small portion of them (e.g., incorrect original spellings, names totally or
partly suppressed by a ruling, nomina nuda, nomina oblita) could be caught in
the process of scanning the taxonomic literature. But how to include all such
things like inadvertent misspellings in literature (not only in taxonomic
literature!), keystroke errors in databases like ITIS, vernacular names, - and not
forgetting misapplied names or even "pro parte" misapplied names?
So why not start with Lists of existing available names as mandated in
Article 59  ICZN-4, supplemented by a register mechanism for updates. In my mind, as
a second step,  the bulk of unavailable names could be better addressed in
other context, e.g. when detailed catalogues of  literature citations of names
are prepared (yet another difficult task that would be strongly supported by
the existence of Lists of Available Names)

2) Taxonomic judgement
On 26.08.04, Brian Tindall wrote:
>Trying to work out names, dates, authors, publucation and type for all
published taxa is one task - the other is also flagging the status of a name (I
don't think you can avoid this).<

Since the Code deals with nomenclature, Article 79 of ICZN-4 does not cover
the flagging of the taxonomic status of names and I suspect that we cannot
expect such things to happen in a Code-mandated registration system. Was not, so
far, the mixing of nomenclature and taxonomy one of the main reasons for
dispute and reluctance to the Registration idea?
On the other side, I fully agree it would be highly desirable to have such
information included by reference to important publications. However, don't you
think that producing such work is another task - not for a Code-mandated
R-thing but for the individual taxonomist or team of taxonomists?  Hopefully the
existence of Lists of Available Names itself would stimulate more taxonomists to
produce such urgently needed publications...

I'd say that lists of available names would also serve authors who need to
avoid the creation of  homonyms in naming new taxa, peer reviewers, as well as
all non-taxonomist users of names, and cases of inadvertent misspellings could
be drastically reduced. Last not least, the new ICZN has some major pitfalls
(e.g., the term "prevailing usage") that could be elegantly circumvented by
lists of available names sanctioned by the Commission...

Best wishes,
Wolfgang Lorenz, Tutzing, Germany

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