Who needs author names? (was Re: abbreviations for author names)

Faunaplan at AOL.COM Faunaplan at AOL.COM
Fri Mar 10 04:45:15 CST 2006

Dear all,
in my opinion, the problem of this discussion is we are too often mixing the
two "levels" of name usage.
At "ground level", a scientific name just indicates the user's taxonomic
concept. E.g., when I publish something like "Observations on the egg laying
behaviour of GenusA speciesA (Author1 Year1)" I signalize to the reader that I
identified the observed animals as members of the species which was named by
Author1 in Year1.
At this level, autorship and date of the accepted name are, of course,
important elements of communication, that's why the Code strongly recommends (22A.1
in ICZN4) their citation at least once in a work, - and that's what several
postings to this thread were underlining.

At "second level": As soon as many or all taxonomists agree on/ recommend the
use of one valid name for that given species, then we can use that name as a
GLOBALLY UNIQUE IDENTIFIER. In fact "UNIQUE" because there are no homonyms
allowed in such VALID NAMES, and the name string itself, - without author and
date, - is a perfect, human-readable unique identifier. (Author's names are not
needed here; their spelling, abbreviation, etc. are not regulated by the Code,
etc.. I guess that's what Chris was pointing to).

Currently we do not have any universal names register which could serve as a
"telefone book" to all recommended (valid/ accepted) taxonomic names, but I
believe we should go on trying to reach that level. What we do have is already a
nice number of (nearly) complete global checklists (fishes, amphibians,
reptiles, birds, even several megadiverse invertebrate groups in zoology; but
obviously the other kingdoms are far ahead) which could be seen as springboards to
a future "one telefonebook for all". I imagine that such a telefone book could
be functioning under the auspices of the Code Commissions and thus meet the
needs and expectations of a VERY broad user community. Hasn't it already become
obvious that the broader commmunity of name users are expecting the
envisioned ZooBank to play a central role not only as a register of available (all
Code-compliant) names but also as a "telefone book" to valid names? (see, e.g.,
the recent article in "Economist"). UBio also could play an important role
because they are collecting all names including those which are not covered by
Zoobank (vernacular names, in litteris names, collection/ herbarium names, etc.).

As for LSIDs and GUIDs, a related issue which has turned up repeatedly in
recent postings: what about the role of VALID NAMES as human-readable elements
within LSIDs or GUIDs? In my point of view, codes instead of taxonomic names are
user-unfriendly to such an extent that I would strongly wish to stay with
human-readable name strings, as far as possible.
Would be interesting to know what the bioinformatics community think about
this issue.

Best regards,
Wolfgang Lorenz, Tutzing, Germany
(author of "Nomina Carabidarum", a telefone book to the names of ground

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