Unambiguously identifying taxonomic concepts (was: A zoologist asks: botanical names practice)

James Edwards jedwards at GBIF.ORG
Thu Jun 17 18:31:10 CDT 2004

It is for just the reasons cited by Paul van Rijckevorsel that those of us
at the secretariat of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility are more
and more coming to the conclusion that the community needs to have globally
unique identifiers (GUIDs) for taxonomic concepts. We are investigating the
possibility of establishing a service to establish GUIDs for various
entities, including specimens, natural history collections, publications and
taxonomic concepts.


We distributed a short white paper on GUIDs at the recent annual meeting of
the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA), and invite comments on it.
You can view and/or download the paper from the GBIF web site (


          - Jim 


Dr. James L. Edwards 

Executive Secretary 

Global Biodiversity Information Facility 

Universitetsparken 15 

DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø 


jedwards at gbif.org




+ + +

This seems to be in the teeth of the facts. A botanical name can be used
only once, at least, used correctly. Citing an author in a non-taxonomic
publication does not add precision. For any particular name a difference in
author citation will usually mean a difference in when this particular name
was validly published, and this will rightly be ignored by the average user
of a name, as being a bibliographic detail. Adding the author citation would
only add information in the case of a heterotypic homonym (Aaaa bbb Author1
referring to species1 and Aaaa bbb Author2 referring to species2) but this
will certainly be way over the head of any non-taxonomist. I know of one
such case where such homonyms were briefly used side by side, and this got
into the chemical literature resulting in a mess that even a century later
has not been cleared up.


Also, in the case of an author publishing the same name in the same year for
different species (Acer pictum coming to mind as a notorious case), just the
author citation and the year of publication would not work but would require
full citations, a step beyond what was discussed here.


Paul van Rijckevorsel

Utrecht, NL



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