[Taxacom] Pop article on taxonomy's decline

dipteryx at freeler.nl dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Jan 28 06:10:43 CST 2011

Van: Richard Pyle [mailto:deepreef at bishopmuseum.org]
Verzonden: vr 28-1-2011 12:11
>> There are consistent definitions of what we mean by a "name of a taxon",

> I used to believe that too.

>> clearly laid down in the respective nomenclature Codes. That there 
>> are also lots of other names (personal names, vernacular names, 
>> product names, etc) will be obvious, but not really relevant.

> Yes, indeed!  The zoological Code defines it one way, and the 
> botanical Code defines it another way, and those are only two of 
> the definitions currently in widespread use.  And in general I have 
> found that they are not the most often used definition, except 
> among nomenclatural taxonomists.

>> Most people I talk to just run away screaming when seeing
>> the way that GNI represents things.

> Evidently we talk to different people.  Not all of the people I 
> talk to are botanical nomenclaturalists.  Many are zoologists. 
> More still and not taxonomists at all, but are the primary 
> consumers of scientific names.

I would guess that there are three groups of users
* the actual nomenclaturists, who follow their Code
* the in-between class, who follow their personal tradition 
  (and tend to include authorship citation in their idea of a name)
* the actual end-users, who are happy to have nothing to do 
  with authorship citations.
* * *

> There was a time, many years ago, when I tried to "correct" 
> everyone by pointing out that the Codes have (sort of) clear 
> definitions (even though the botanical Code and zoological Code 
> don't share the same definition 

To the actual end user there is not all that much difference:
- Panthera leo is the name of a species under the zoological Code
- Quercus robur is the name of a species under the botanical Code
In both cases the first part of the name is the generic name.
It is only for the taxonomist that things get complicated, 
and that is how it should be.
* * *
>> ***
>> That may be, but unless I am sadly mistaken, according to the
>> zoological Code "the name of a species" is a combination, which
>> leaves personal (or shared) idiosynchrasies of expressing oneself
>> as just that.

> The definition of "scientific name" is closer to how you and 
> I imagine it:
> "Of a taxon: a name that conforms to Article 1, as opposed to 
> a vernacular name. The scientific name of a taxon at any rank 
> above the species group consists of one name; that of a species, 
> two names (a binomen); and that of a subspecies, three names 
> (a trinomen) [Arts. 4 and 5]. A scientific name is not 
> necessarily available."

I am noting that it indeed says of the name of a species:
"that of a species [consists of] two names (a binomen);":
it is a combination.
* * *

>> Perhaps more people would understand that that is what GNI is if the
>> website said so, instead of claiming to be an "Index of scientific
>> names provided by all Name Repositories (19,384,364 names total)"?

> I completely agree!  Their claim, of course, is accurate within
> the context of how "name" is defined for GNI.  As I said, to avoid 
> this sort of confusion in the future, I have asked them to change 
> it to "name-strings". I just hope that suggestion will slip past 
> the marketing department....

I hope so too ...

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