[Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Mon Jun 18 22:46:53 CDT 2012

Several posters have clearly explained to Rod why we change genus names. I suspect he can appreciate our point of view, but the following suggests that he won't accept it:

"Dear Donald,

It's more than changing endings, it's changing the genus in the first place that I object to. It's all very well naming things, but to change the names subsequently seems unjustified.

The assumption that only an expert is interested, or that expertise is readily available, seems short-sighted. So we're producing knowledge that is useful to only a few? We can't anticipate anyone being interested in these taxa down the line? If that's the case, then it's clearly there's not much point funding taxonomy ;)

Isn't it possible that as we see a flood of metagenomics and DNA barcoding we will see people trying to make sense of those sequences, try to attach them to taxa that have been described (and for which we may have ecological information?). There will be people (like me) looking at sequences, distributions, phylogenies, trying to link this stuff together, only to be confronted with a mass of names that make sense to some (possibly dead) expert.


After Rod has succeeded in making taxonomy more convenient for other non-taxonomists, he should turn his attention to chemistry. Take glycerol, for example, also known as glycerin, glycerine, propane-1,2,3-triol and some other names. For heaven's sake, can't these chemists understand that other people have to use these names? How can other people link together all the published and other information on this substance, when it's been tagged with so many different names over the years? Come on, chemists, get your act together!

After chemistry Rod should tackle medicine. Not only are there different names for what are basically the same condition, the silly doctors prefer to use arcane Latin descriptors. For example, who outside medicine would know that proctalgia fugax is a short-lived pain in the ass?

Disclaimer: that last phrase was not intended to refer to any post, query or opinion expressed on Taxacom.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

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