Should we ditch infageneric ranks?

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Wed Sep 28 10:04:18 CDT 2005

Hey!  No self-respecting taxonomic botanist would ever want to live in a

Unfortuantely I have to admit that, guided by the anal-retentive botanists
(but I repeat myself) you describe, APNI is designed to accommodate the
entire hierarchy disaster provided...  :)

The reason to tell the story in a nomenclatural sense is that you can say
it to someone in words, they will hear it, and believe.  And if you do a
good job of it we can store it in a database in a way that generate a
plausable hierarchical list that anyonce can understand, and believe.

Saying an equivalent cladogram in words remains a bit of a
challenge... 'there is one main branch with a fork at the end, one branch
of which is divided, and each of these branches is divided again; about
half way along the main branch is another branch which is undivided; about
a quarter way along the main branch is another branch which is
divided.  Each of these branches have names: the first one is called... '

yep... works for me...

I guess the thing about nomenclature is that it is supposed to be useful
and informative.  But just because you are allowed to use a plethora of
ranks bewteen the big ones does not mean you should.  Just do what you
have to - we trust you Kevin...  Remember the words of Buckminster Fuller:
'if the solution is not beautiful, it is wrong.'

The bottom line is that no-one is goign to die over this.  Dryandras will
become Banksias, Murray will move house, the public will grizzle for a
while about their favourite species changing its name, about what a pain
botanist are, and they will get used to it.  And none of them will
actually consider or care about the infrageneric classification at all.
Which is exactly as it should be...  :)


~ Jim Croft ~ 02 6246 5500 ~ jrc at ~ ~

On Tue, 27 Sep 2005, Kevin Thiele wrote:

> >And spare a thought for our mate Murray who
> >as a botanist chose to live in Dryandra Street?
> >Is he going to have to change his address to
> >Banksiasubgenusdryandra Street?
> Good grief - how many more of these am I going to get?
> Your point about the undesirability of informal species groups in databases
> is well put, but tell me - does any database in the universe actually place
> Banksia leptophylla into subseries Leptophyllae of series Abietinae of
> section Oncostylis of Bankia? If you can show me one, I'll show you an
> anal-retentive. Sure, APNI has all the infrataxa in it (just for fun, I
> assume, since I doubt anyone actually uses them) - but wouldn't you be
> better off without them? - then you wouldn't have to change series Abietinae
> into section Abietinae etc etc.
> The problems with e.g. Casuarina s.l. seem to me to be someone else's
> problem. Laurie Johnson had the option to use infraranks for these and he
> decided not to, hence a gradual change away from infraranks wouldn't have
> had any effect in such practice.
> >If you know what the story is and you
> >think it is worth telling in a nomenclatural sense,
> >why not create a new infrageneric classification
> >and stat. novs to reflect what you believe?
> This is exactly the question - is the story (the clear infageneric groups
> that exist in Banksia s.l.) worth telling in a nomenclatural sense? - why
> not tell it with a branching diagram, which is a much better way of telling
> the story?
> Cheers - k

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