[Taxacom] New lizard species
deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Tue Jun 8 02:44:46 CDT 2010
> I see no characters sensu Read, but one character sensu ICZN glossary:
> character, n.
> Any attribute of organisms used for recognizing, differentiating, or
> classifying taxa
> where 'attribute' is left undefined, so takes by default the least
> restrictive everyday English meaning
> "Diagnosis. This species includes all populations that cluster with
> those from the southern portion of the Congolian rainforest included
> in this study (southern Cameroon, Gabon and Congo), with strong
> support in the Bayesian species delimitation model"
> this is an attribute being used by the authors to classify their taxa
> - a particularly shoddy extrinsic attribute from a taxonomic
> perspective, but an attribute nonetheless...
Once again, Thomas Pape provided the answer to an unnecessarily long and contentious thread. Once again, nobody seems to have noticed. I'll re-post what Thomas said:
> The diagnosis does not comply with Article 13.1.1 because it does not
> mention any characters, and it does not point to a publication
> containing such characters.
> The ICZN Glossary definition of character is "Any attribute of
> organisms ...". That a given population will cluster with certain
> other populations is not an organismal attribute.
The key word, in my opinion, is not "character" or "attribute", it's "organism". The phrase "attribute of organisms" means that the attribute is a property of the *organisms*, not of the *population* of organisms.
The reason the diagnosis fails Art. 13.1.1 is because the attribute "cluster" applies to a population of organisms, not to organisms themselves (as in, "...*populations* that cluster with those ..." [emphasis added]).
Is this open to interpretation? Yes. But so is virtually every other sentence in the ICZN Code, as well as the botanical Code, as well as just about any other document in any language. In the legal field, it falls upon judges who are very familiar with legal Code, and the language the Code is written in, and the contexts in which it was written, to disambiguate alternative interpretations of meaning in words and phrases that appear in the legal Code.
In the case of ICZN, the Commissioners serve in this capacity -- it falls upon them to determine the appropriate interpretation of potentially ambiguous language in the Code.
By my count, four active ICZN Commissioners, and one former ICZN Commissioner (including two former presidents of ICZN) have all weighed in on this thread. They have been unanimous in their assesment that the diagnosis, at least as presented to Taxacom, fails to comply with Article 13.1.1 of the ICZN Code.
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