[Taxacom] The ICN (Melbourne Code) is published

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Dec 21 02:15:24 CST 2012

This is a close call, just one working day to spare; otherwise
it would have been published in 2013!  I am glad to see the
electronic version simultaneously published, although I
imagine this may well harm the sale of the book.

Now to see if the changes made are for the better or not.
Something that immediately catches the eye, being in
the very front, is the footnote to Preamble 8
"For the nomenclature of other prokaryotic groups, see
the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria
(Bacteriological Code) [Although renamed in 1999 as
the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes
(see Labeda in Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 50: 2246. 2000),
the current edition, published in 1992, retains the previous

This certainly looks confusing. A Code of nomenclature
exists in and by itself. Much was made of the provisions
on electronic publication which were to be effective from
the moment the Melbourne Congress approved them,
although the book that contains these provisions appears
only now, a year and a half later. The Code is (or may be)
in the book, but the Code is not the book nor is the book
the Code. In fact, the St Louis Code is likely to be the last
'botanical' Code that can be found in the book. The
Vienna Code requires an Erratum sheet to be complete
and the Melbourne Code is now to be published in two
volumes (the Appendices II and onwards still to appear).

This is even more true for other Codes. To consult the
zoological Code it is not enough to have the book, but it
is also necessary to use two or three[?] Amendments. It
is worse for prokaryotes, where the latest edition of the
book was published in 1992, and where the Code has been
amended several times since (with the changes up to 2002
apparently online here: http://www.bacterio.cict.fr/code.html )

So, strictly speaking, for the Code that governs
prokaryotes reference should be made to the 1992 book
plus the Amendments, and the name should be the
International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (the
current name of the Code as it exists now). It is rather
misleading to speak of "the current edition" of the Code
when what is meant is the latest edition of the book (that
for many years now has not held the entire Code). To catch
all this succinctly in a footnote will require some creative
wordsmithing, and perhaps the footnote as it was, although
it was vague to the point of being untrue, was preferable.


And yes, seasons greetings to all!

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John McNeill" <johnm at rom.on.ca>
To: <Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Cc: <Nicholas.Turland at mobot.org>; <jmcneill at rbge.ac.uk>
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:33 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] The ICN (Melbourne Code) is published

Dear colleagues:

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (the
Melbourne Code) was published today (20 December 2012) both in hardcopy
(as Regnum Vegetabile vol. 154 – see
http://www.koeltz.com/product.aspx?pid=204604 ) and online – see the
International Association for Plant Taxonomy web page at
http://www.iapt-taxon.org/index_layer.php [or:
http://www.iapt-taxon.org/nomen/main.php ]

This new Melbourne Code, the ICN, replaces the Vienna Code, published in
2006 under the title International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN)
and incorporates the decisions taken at the XVIII International
Botanical Congress held in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2011. (see,

The changes in the rules include provision for electronic publication
and the option of using English instead of Latin for descriptions of new
taxa both of which came into effect on 1 January 2012, and the
requirements for “registration” of new names of fungi coming into effect
on 1 January 2013.

Seasons greetings.

John McNeill

John McNeill, Rapporteur-général, Nomenclature Section, XVIII IBC,
    Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum;
    Honorary Associate, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Mailing address:  Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland,
Telephone:    +44-131-248-2848;  fax: +44-131-248-2901
Home office:  +44-162-088-0651
e-mail: jmcneill at rbge.ac.uk (mail to johnm at rom.on.ca is also read)


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