More on vernacular names

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at FREELER.NL
Mon Mar 7 10:39:28 CST 2005

From: Curtis Clark <jcclark-lists at EARTHLINK.NET>
> Excuse me, but it all comes back to types. A shifting circumscription
that neither includes nor excludes the types of senior synonyms causes
no name changes.

It is shifting circumscriptions of genera that cause the first half of a
scientific name to change. This may also cause the second half to change as
well (when the epithet is pre-occupied, etc).

It is shifting circumscriptions of species that a) cause several small
species to be lumped into one big species, and lose their individual names
or b) cause a big species to be split into several small species, with new
unfamiliar names.

Actually, types by themselves are completely "harmless": they are the
anchors connecting a scientific name to a specimen and hence to the taxon
the specimen belongs to. It is rather "priority + types" that may give
trouble. However, these days such (purely nomenclatural) troubles are
severely limited by the arsenal of countermeasures available. Under the ICBN
"new" types may be assigned, widely accepted names may be conserved,
resurrected forgotten old names may be rejected, etc.

From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
> A type never changes - the concepts and applications do.

This is not a 100% true in botany: a type may be changed by conservation.
[But I appreciate the sentiment ;-)]
* * *

From: Curtis Clark <jcclark-lists at EARTHLINK.NET>
> That seems an unimportant distinction, since a name not "possessed" by a
> type has no meaning in scientific nomenclature.

There are very many botanical names that lack a type, still to be
designated. These names have plenty of meaning ...


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