Duplicate taxonomic names

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Thu Jun 2 17:28:10 CDT 2005

There have been a number of communications in Taxacom over the years on inter-Code homonymy, and I refer to a couple of very early ones in a paper that I wrote in 1997 (not, so far as I know, on the web, so I copy a portion below):

McNeill, J.  1997.  Key issues to be addressed.  In: D.L. Hawksworth (ed.),  The new bionomenclature: the BioCode debate.  Biology International Special Issue 34: 17-40.

This discussed inter-Code homonymy briefly and gave a few examples (see extract of the relevant portion below).  It also included a table, courtesy of Paul Kirk (P.Kirk at CABI.org) who may well have a more up-to-date account.  The table is only about 22K and I can forward it to anyone who wants it but Taxacom does not accept attachments. From the table it appears that 13% of all botanical generic names are homonyms of zoological names and that this figure is not very different for names in current use in botanical nomenclature.  What is not known is the percentage of these names in current use in zoology.  Data on names of prokaryotes are also included in the Table.

The relevant text from my paper is appended.

John McNeill

John McNeill, Rapporteur-général, Nomenclature Section, XVII IBC, Vienna, 2005
Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum;
   Honorary Associate, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Mailing address:  Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland, U.K.
Telephone:    +44-131-248-2912;  fax: +44-131-248-2901
Home office:  +44-162-088-0651;  fax: +44-162-088-0342
e-mail: jmcneill at rbge.org.uk (mail to johnm at rom.on.ca is also read)

Relevant text from McNeill (1997) -- see above.

Most obviously, the independence of the nomenclature determined by each of the Codes can and does lead to extensive homonymy, that is, the occurrence of names spelled in exactly the same way for organisms governed by different Codes.  The one limitation on independency rests with the Bacteriological Code, which excludes independency of nomenclature between it and the names of "algae and fungi" and "protozoa" (Prin. 2).  In consequence, generic names such as Microcyclus and Pirella, later homonyms of fungal generic names governed by the ICBN, have been replaced by names (Ancylobacter and Pirellula) that would not otherwise have precedence.
Table 2 provides a summary of the extent of generic homonymy as determined on the basis of the electronic databases of genera of plants, animals and bacteria.  From this, it can be seen that although nearly 9,000 botanical generic names are to be found as genera in the Zoological Record database (13.6% of the total number of botanical genera), only 3,554 of these appear to be in current use in botany (only some 5%).  Many well-known botanical and zoological genera are known to be homonymous with names governed by the other Code; some examples of vascular plant genera include Arenaria L. (1753) (sandwort, Caryophyllaceae) and Arenaria Brisson (1760) (turnstone, Aves: Scolopacidae), Ficus L. (1753) (fig, Moraceae) and Ficus Bolten (1798) (Mollusca), Oenanthe L. (1753) (evening primrose, Onagraceae), and Oenanthe Pallas (1771) (wheatear, Aves: Muscicapidae), Pieris D. Don (1834) (Ericaceae) and Pieris Schrank (1801) (cabbage white butterfly, Lepidoptera: Pieridae),  Paul Dessart, Bruxelles (dessart at D5100.kbinirsnb.be) (pers. comm.), as part of an ongoing comparison of the botanical and zoological Codes, has accumulated a list of more than 140 homonymous pairs of generic names in current use (see archives of TAXACOM at csma.Berkeley.edu for September 1996 at http//www.keil.ukans.edu/archive/taxacom.html), but the overall extent of potential confusion in terms of the size of the genera involved and the presence or absence of homonyms at the species level remains to be examined in detail.

The only example currently known of homonymy between Codes at the species level is of the vascular plant Pieris japonica (Thunb.) G. Don (1834) (Ericaceae) and the butterfly, Pieris napi subsp. japonica Shirozu (1952) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae), which are homonymous because of the co-ordinate status provision of the ICZN, by which the publication of the epithet japonica at subspecific level implies the co-ordinate publication of Pieris japonica Shirozu. (Cf. Mary E. Petersen (mepetersen at zmuc.ku.dk) in the September 1996 archives of the TAXACOM Listserver (cf. http//www.keil.ukans.edu/archive/taxacom.html).  The issue of the overall extent of homonymy between Codes clearly needs to be an important priority for the International Committee on Bionomenclature.

John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum;
    Honorary Associate, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Mailing address:  Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland, U.K.
Telephone:    +44-131-248-2912;  fax: +44-131-248-2901
Home office:  +44-162-088-0651;  fax: +44-162-088-0342
e-mail: jmcneill at rbge.org.uk (johnm at rom.on.ca is also read)
>>> Paul van Rijckevorsel <dipteryx at FREELER.NL> 06/02/05 1:59 PM >>>
I think it came up more than once, e.g.
September 1996: Same genus/Different Kingdoms

Best, Paul

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Jensen" <rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 7:19 PM
Subject: Duplicate taxonomic names

> As I recall, sometime during the past year there were some postings to
taxacom providing examples of identical botanical and zoological taxonomic
names.  Can anyone direct me to the appropriate thread?  I've been
> searching the archives, but I don't know exactly what search terms to use.
> Thanks in advance,
> Dick J
> --
> 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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