[Taxacom] Species-level homonyms - between/within codes

dipteryx at freeler.nl dipteryx at freeler.nl
Tue Nov 9 02:42:00 CST 2010

Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Dr Brian Taylor
Verzonden: di 9-11-2010 8:46

> I am baffled by this. For almost 50 years as a biologist 
> I have believed it is the genus name - species name combination 
> that is unique.  The latter on its own is of no significance,
> or have I missed something.

Well, this is not a matter of biology, but of using the particular
nomenclatural Code that is relevant. From a nomenclatural perspective,
biology does not exist, and won't exist until the adoption and 
activation of the BioCode (or the PhyloCode).

In botany the species name (the combination of generic name + specific 
epithet) is the unit that matters. Any correct species name should 
indeed be unique and any other species name with the same spelling 
is a homonym.

In zoology it is entirely different. A species name cannot be a homonym, 
never, ever. Only a specific name (the second part of the species name)
can be a homonym, with the further limitation that any homonymy in 
different genera is to be disregarded.

So, taking the example of
  Aricia brunnescens Zetterstedt, 1845 
  Aricia brunnescens Harrison, 1906
These species names cannot be homonyms as they are animal names 
(if these were plant names, they would be homonyms). The relevant units 
here are the specific names "brunnescens": since they are in different
genera the homonymy is to be disregarded. 

Hope this helps. Take-home message: there is no such thing as biology.

Paul van Rijckevorsel

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