[Taxacom] Citing taxonomical works (was: decline and fall of taxonomy)

McClelland, Donald dmcclelland at nybg.org
Thu Jun 18 12:09:24 CDT 2009


Fred,

   I fully agree that having a clearly defined concept of a species is
important.  Your suggestion 

"The kind of useage I'm suggesting is something similar to: "Names and 
species concepts follow Cody & Britton (1989 [Ferns of Canada]), except 
in the case of Dryopteris squechili, which we regard, with Donald (2009)

as an autotretraploid...""

makes it clear just exactly what you are talking about, and people do
this.  If you deal with species that have been well treated by previous
workers, it might seem silly to use the original author's name, but if
you deal with species that have not been worked up by previous workers
it becomes obvious that you need to include the author to avoid
potential confusion.  

Donald

The New York Botanical Garden



-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Frederick W
Schueler
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 12:17 PM
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Citing taxonomical works (was: decline and fall
of taxonomy)

McClelland, Donald wrote:

>> The Codes ensure that every name is unique. Given that a name is
unique
>> without the authors' names, just what is the advantage of citing the 
>> ultimate author of a name, rather than current revisor whose concept
of 
>> the taxon is meant? 

> We must know the "ultimate" (original) author of a name because names
> are linked to type specimens.  Without this link, all sorts of
confusion
> in the application of a name can follow as I'm sure you are aware.
> Linking names to types is the basis of modern taxonomy and for good
> reason.  Also, The Codes of course have rules to prevent homonyms (at
> least within kingdom), but that doesn't mean homonyms didn't/don't get
> into the literature.  Using authors' names prevents confusion when
> dealing with this situation.   

* I know this is the argument that's used for citing authors, but what 
I'm asking is how citing the original author (or, in botany, a potpourri

of authors of epithets) is better than citing a recent revisor whose 
species concept is being used by the author? Even if one gave the 
specimen number of the type specimen (a much more direct tie to the 
type), what one is really referencing in using a name is the species 
concept you, as an author, endorse at the time of writing.

Any set of names from a recent revisor will be free from homonyms, and 
will include synonymies and lots of other user-friendly features that 
won't be present in an original description (which isn't adequately 
cited in ordinary practice).

The kind of useage I'm suggesting is something similar to: "Names and 
species concepts follow Cody & Britton (1989 [Ferns of Canada]), except 
in the case of Dryopteris squechili, which we regard, with Donald (2009)

as an autotretraploid..."

Scientific citation is supposed to be to a chain of sequentially 
justified publications, and while I'm as much of a fan of the 18th 
century as anyone, I think it's time to recognize that conventional 
citation of authors' names is a practice which made sense in the 18th 
century, but which has been overwhelmed by the subsequent development of

the scientific literature.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: this is a parroting of an argument first learned from 
Bill Brown, at Cornell, in the 1960s.

fred.
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