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

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Fri Mar 10 08:17:21 CST 2006

"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

Commonly, there are only one or at most two taxonomists with expertise
in a group, and they are, well, not exactly at each other's throats, but
agree to disagree pretty often, sometimes even agreeing on what they
disagree about.

I think we are talking about floristics and (what?) faunistics people,
and whether they generally agree to use one name. Do they? I don't think
so. Names used in biodiversity studies are like a network in time,
splitting into many species names, then recombining into something not
exactly similar to the original, then splitting again. If floristics
keeps up with new knowledge, then this is great. The assumption is that
that which splits its nomenclature and returns is one taxon, OR those
split names are each separate taxa that are combined into one aggregate
taxon when the names are recombined. 

This is an extreme application of realism, that there is one thing out
there, and we can name it, maybe in different ways, but we are sure
there is only one thing. Actually, I think there is a consensus (Taxacom
is where this can be voted on) that species are in a spectrum of poorly
connected, somewhat introgressing populations of sub or cryptic species
through to single morphotype, well isolated, panmictic species. 

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group, Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org <mailto:richard.zander at mobot.org> 
Voice: 314-577-5180;  Fax: 314-577-0828
Bryophyte Volumes of Flora of North America:
Res Botanica:
Shipping address for UPS, etc.:
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

-----Original Message-----
From: Faunaplan at AOL.COM [mailto:Faunaplan at AOL.COM] 
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 3:45 AM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Who needs author names? (was Re: abbreviations
for author names)

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
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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