A zoologist asks: botanical names practice (Modified by DerekSikes)

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Wed Jun 16 12:36:28 CDT 2004

Normally, in a flora or monograph, the author and citation are provided for
botanical names.  However, given that there is a single valid name for a
given taxon, we botanists do not feel it necessary to recite the complete
citation everytime we make reference to the taxon.

Of course, if we are making explicit reference to aspects of the original
description, then we will treat that as a normal citation, as we would any
other statements we make with reference to the work of others.  But, when I
write Quercus alba L., all botanists know that I am refering to Quercus alba
as described by Linnaeus and it is only necessary for me to write the author
designation once - the first time the name appears in the paper.  This
practice in no way denies that the existence of a species called Quercus alba
is a hypothesis; it simply acknowledges that the Linnean hypothesis has not
been refuted and that I still recognize his Quercus alba as the best working
hypothesis for the organisms that share a particular set of characteristics.



Derek Sikes wrote:

> On 16-Jun-04, at 8:12 AM, Mary Barkworth wrote:
> >
> > I know of no good reason for citing the date of publication. I do see a
> > good reason to state what references you used for identifying the
> > plants
> This may have been mentioned before - and clearly some might dismiss it
> as too radical - but if a species description is a publication, and
> represents a hypothesis put forward by the author(s) of that
> publication, that indeed such a species is unique, why is it that we so
> often use these author's hypotheses [species names] without citing the
> paper in which they were first proposed?
> Would anyone use in a paper an ecological hypothesis, or even a
> phylogenetic hypothesis of relationships, without citing the
> author(s)/publication of that hypothesis?
> It's as if we think species are so real and obvious that there is no
> reason to give credit to the person who first described them - anyone
> could have done it! i.e. they are not hypotheses and the work of the
> person who made them available to science is not worth citing.
> I've been tossing this around a bit among colleagues lately and thought
> this seemed an ideal time to throw it out for wider discussion.
> Yours,
> Derek Sikes
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Derek S. Sikes, Assistant Professor
> Division of Zoology
> Department of Biological Sciences
> University of Calgary
> 2500 University Drive NW
> Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4
> dsikes at ucalgary.ca
> http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dsikes/sikes_lab.htm
> phone: 403-210-9819
> FAX:  403-289-9311
> "Remember that Truth alone is the matter you are in Search after; and
> if you have been mistaken, let no Vanity reduce you to persist in your
> mistake." Henry Baker, London, 1785
> Entomological Society of Alberta:
> http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/courses.hp/esa/esa.htm
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen

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