[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Wed Feb 15 12:40:38 CST 2012

I would observe that, for zoological names, of the following list:

>1. Is this a name?
>2. Is this the correct way to write it?
>3. Is this name currently in use?
>4. What other names are related to this name (e.g., synonyms, 
>lexical variants)?
>5. Where was this name published? Can I see that publication?

at least 1 and 5 are questions for which an objective and definitive 
answer (via application of the ICZN for #1) can be arrived at, and 
that the answer will not change. Thus, these are things which could 
be made part of a permanent public archive (hopefully, something like 

#2 and 3 are things that can, in essence, be objectively determined 
under the Code, but are subject to the nuance of "prevailing usage" - 
that is, a sudden change in how taxonomists treat a name can shift 
the answer from "no" to "yes" (in both cases) or from "yes" to "no" 
(for #2). One hope that I have is that a mechanism for Registration 
can be implemented in the future which will prevent such fluctuation, 
and thus make the answers to 2 and 3 immutable, as well.

#4 is something that cannot be objectively determined, because 
synonymy is almost invariably subjective.

Realistically, then, this list represents a mixed bag of the 
immediately attainable, the potentially attainable, and the 
unattainable. It might be more productive to focus on the former 
categories, in terms of a community-wide goal. I'll further note that 
if taxonomists want a system of Registration that will result in 
permanently stable names, then they are probably going to have to 
insist upon it, *and* be willing to participate in the process 
(because such a process is likely to require public review). I'm not 
100% sure whether botanical names would work exactly the same way, 
but I expect that the situation would be pretty much the same.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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