[Taxacom] Generic type of large genus belongs in different genus

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Wed Apr 10 15:14:29 CDT 2013

Dear Paul,

> ***
> I would not dare guess how succesful this will turn out
> to be, but this at least is the generally right approach:
> using computer capability to handle the reality that is
> out there. This, as opposed to the approach of
> complaining and trying to make reality fit into the limited
> computer capabilities that one happens to have and
> favour.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise, but I'd characterise my position a little differently.

We have a large legacy of practice that can't be changed, and so we need (or at leats, I want) ways to extract information from that legacy as best we can. Given the scale of the task I believe that automation has a major part to play, and hence I am exploring approaches such as those described in http://iphylo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/bionames-ideas-automatically-finding.html (see also the work of Huber & Klump http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2008.02.016 that I mention in that post).

But just because that is the way we've always done things, does that mean it must always be so? My "complaining" is simply to question the practice of treating the name as being informative, such that if a species moves around in a classification we change the name.  I have no expectation that things will actually change (I'm not THAT deluded), but just because we've always done it this way doesn't mean that we shouldn't ponder the implications of that practice. I see no particular reason to change the name of Drosophila melanogaster, for example, no matter where it fits in fly phylogeny.

In the same way that it is, perhaps, undesirable to try and shoehorn past practice "into the limited computer capabilities that one happens to have and favour", I'd argue that it is unwise to simply continue as we've always done without considering whether changes in technology might suggest other ways of doing things.



P.S. Can you clarify what aspects of reality TDWG has not kept up with?

> Not that Roderic Page is alone in this approach. For
> example, I remain amazed that the TDWG is happily
> trying to codify a reality more than twenty years out
> of date ...
> Paul
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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