A zoologist asks: botanical names practice

Richard Petit r.e.petit at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Thu Jun 17 10:23:03 CDT 2004

I respectfully disagree with Dr. Lane about "authoritative sources."  I just went to the GBIF site and found listed thereon a non-existent name I have attempted to have removed from the ITIS site since 1998 by phone calls and email, the latest one (still unanswered) on June 7th. There is no such cancellariid as "Cancellaria longicirrata Massy, 1917" which is assigned to the equally non-existent genus Massya on ITIS.

Also, ITIS is introducing nude names by including names taken from museum labels.  I can vouch for only one family (Cancellariidae) but there is no such name as Cancellaria bifuscida deshayes [sic] which is probably an error for Cancellaria bifasciata Deshayes, 1830, a junior synonym of C. oblonga Sowerby, 1825. Why are museum labels used as a source when there exists a published catalogue of the taxa in the family Cancellariidae?  Even without one, why would a museum label be cited instead of the primary literature?

Having a source for original citations is a very fine idea and would be a most useful tool. However, no such list should be taken as definitive and workers should use such a source only as a means of locating the work to be cited and not as a source of citations.  A majority of the problems in systematic nomenclature have arisen from people blindly copying others and not going back to the original source. 

I am also amazed at the suggestion by others on TAXACOM that references to original citations are unnecessary. How else can it be insured that all workers are referring to the same taxon? 

Respectfully submitted,

Richard E. Petit

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Meredith Lane" <mlane at GBIF.ORG>
To: <
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 8:59 AM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] A zoologist asks: botanical names practice

> Dear  Taxacom-ers,
> Yesterday I sent what was probably an over-hasty reply to Barry Roth's
> question, suggesting that GBIF is the place to go to get citations and
> dates for names.  GBIF is in its nascent stages of development and is
> only beginning its work toward the goal of making that statement a
> reality. Only a percentage of all scientific names are currently
> available, though this number will continue to grow as datasets now in
> the pipeline (and that will be developed in the future) are uploaded.
> The name links are not (currently) attached to sources of the original
> descriptions, but rather to citations from  some authoritative source
> (GBIF's 20 name-data providers currently serve this information in
> several different ways).
> If you enter an animal name in the GBIF search fields (try /Puma/, for
> example), the list of names returned to you will include the author and
> the date of publication, in the form  */Puma concolor/ (Linnaeus,
> 1771)*. However, if you enter a plant name (try /Quercus/, for example),
> the return list will have the form  */Quercus alba /L. *and there will
> be no date, yet the names are coming from authoritative sources (the
> Catalog of Life partnership, comprising Species 2000 and ITIS).  These
> formulae are following established practice in zoology and botany,
> respectively.
> As GBIF's data content grows, and as its information science/technology
> developments overcome various obstacles that result from the complexity
> of biological data and information (not to mention the complexity of
> nature itself) as well as the variation of connectivity and computer
> capacity among data providers, certain frustrations that may be
> encountered at the present time when using the GBIF portal will
> gradually be alleviated.  Watch our progress at the Communications
> Portal www.gbif.org <http://www.gbif.org/>, and search for data on the
> Data Portal www.gbif.net <http://www.gbif.net>.
> GBIF welcomes suggestions for and assistance with improvement.
> --
> Meredith A. Lane, PhD
> PR & Scientific Liaison
> GBIF Secretariat
> Global Biodiversity Information Facility
> mlane at gbif.org
> www.gbif.org <http://www.gbif.org>

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