[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Sat Feb 25 06:18:33 CST 2012


The usage of the term "valid" in zoology is insider slang and not in line
with its meaning and usage in the common language.
The terms used in the zoological Code should be shifted back to a
regularly understood language and should be better alined with the other
biological disciplines. In bacteriology and botany the term is in line
with its common meaning.

The term "valid" implies that something has officially come into effect.
In zoology this is not so. Any author can use any available name for a
taxon, this depends on the author's personal taxonomic judgement, I can
see nothing official in such a usage. 10 different authors can use 10
different taxonomic concepts for the same species complex and use 10
different names for basically the same animal, all would be called
"valid", and at the same time all would be called "invalid". Author A can
use name 1 for one species and name 2 for another species. Author B can
lump both and use name 2 so that name 1 will be invalid. Name 1 can be
valid and invalid at the same time. What a nonsense.

This trend to use insider terms in the IZCN Code has increased in the past
decades, or rather, the trend to borrow common expressions and redefine
them to be used in an increasingly confusing Code internal language.

The term "validated" was long used for a procedure by which an otherwise
unavailable name was made available by some special action (by the
Commission or whatever). A perfectly intelligible term. It took some
decades until someone realised that "validated" was not in line with the
weird use of the term "valid" in the ICZN Code, so they replaced this by a
new term "conserved". The next insider term was created.

"Conserved" does not at all mean that something was conserved in the
common meaning of this term (to keep, retain and protect something).
Conserving an unavailable name would mean that its status would be fixed
and never be changed any more. This is exactly incorrect because under the
plenary power(s) the status of the name is changed from unavailable to
available, which is the opposite of the literal meaning of "to conserve".

One cannot even argue that by changing the status of availability the
Commission retains and preserves the use of the name in applied
taxonomies. The Commission can make old names available which were never
used before. In the new terminology the name Trochulus Chemnitz, 1786 was
"conserved" by the Commission in Opinion 2079. What was conserved here?
Nothing was conserved. This name was originally published in an
unavailable work and had not been used, but the Commission made this name
available in a wise decision to solve a conflict between two generic
homonyms. Immediately after the decision the name came into usage. Neither
its use in applied taxonomies nor its nomenclatural status was at any time
preserved or retained.

This nonsense should stop.

Francisco

> Rich,
> Reality is that you won't stop it. Bacteriology uses the term "validly
> published" in connection with a name. This mutates to "validly
> published species", "validly published description", then on to "valid
> species" and "valid description". None of which are used in our Code.
> Given the current use of the term "valid" (valid name) in zoology the
> impression often surfaces that because we (bacteriology) have a
> centralised system that we rule on taxonomy, recoding which names are
> "valid" (as in zoology) as opposed to "validly published".
>
> Brian
>
> Quoting Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>:
>
>> Hi Bradley,
>>
>>> This sub-thread about what to call the "parts" of a taxon name
>>> highlights
>> yet
>>> another confusing disconnect between the languages of botany and
>>> zoology.
>>> I spend part of my time working on biodiversity informatics projects
>> involving
>>> both botanists and zoologists. You would not believe the unproductive
>>> coding errors this little difference in terminology has caused.
>>
>> Actually....yes I would.  I think it was at the TDWG meeting in
>> Christchurch
>> when a bunch of us data nerds from both the zoology camp and botany camp
>> got
>> together in a room to hammer out Taxon Name stuff, and it was
>> mind-boggling
>> how difficult the conversation was due to these subtle but critical
>> differences in vocabulary between the disciplines. If even the
>> taxonomy-based data nerds had so much trouble communicating with each
>> other,
>> you can imagine how hard it was to explain all this stuff to a
>> non-taxonomist coder.
>>
>> I've always wanted to build a dictionary of unnecessarily confusing
>> terms in
>> our domain.  The obvious ones are "species", "name", "valid", etc.  But
>> once
>> you throw in the IT domain, a whole new suite of confusing & homonymous
>> terms emerge ("Class", "Type", "Natural Key", "Identification", etc.)
>>
>>> I know the ICBN and ICZN are officially independent, but there are
>>> times
>>> when I think it would benefit everyone to standardize at least some of
>>> our
>>> terminology.
>>
>> Indeed:
>> http://www.bionomenclature.net/
>>
>> And, in particular:
>> http://www.bionomenclature.net/documents/NOMGLOSS_2010_FINAL.pdf
>>
>> Table 1, on pp. 17-18, is particularly helpful.
>>
>> Aloha,
>> Rich
>>
>>
>>
>>
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>
>
>
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Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut, Berliner Str. 28, D-37073 Goettingen
Phone +49 551 395536
http://www.animalbase.org





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