[Taxacom] Generic type of large genus belongs in different genus
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Apr 10 15:31:03 CDT 2013
Note that the particular problem under discussion here is a direct consequence of binomials for species. If species names were uninomial, then we would not have this problem, though we would still face synonymy issues. With Drosophila melanogaster, there are a few options:
(1) Change it to Sophophora melanogaster ... the results of doing so may not be so problematic;
(2) Keep it as Drosophila melanogaster just so as to avoid changing the name, even though this may imply false relationships;
(3) Keep it as Drosophila melanogaster just so as to avoid changing the name, but avoid false relationships by widening the concept of Drosophila to include whetever is required to regain monophyly (the cost of this might be that some other names will have to be changed as they will be secondary homonyms in Drosophila, but that may not be so bad?)
From: Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, 11 April 2013 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Generic type of large genus belongs in different genus
> 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
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 ...
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