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

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Wed Apr 10 18:02:36 CDT 2013


On 4/10/13 3:23 PM, Roderic Page wrote:
> Dear Doug,
>
> I confess ignorance regarding the ICZN code, but I'm not aware that it 
> mandates that congeneric species be, in fact, related.
>
> I'm not advocating abandoning the code, rather (and I am regretting 
> ever opening my mouth) I am simply asking whether changing names to 
> fit a classification is worth the decline in our ability to find 
> information about that taxon. From my perspective we are trading 
> information retrieval against a crude tool to represent relationships. 
> Given that we have better ways of representing relationship than genus 
> + species, maybe we should ponder leaving names alone. Taking 
> Drosophila melanogaster as an example, I see no reason to change its 
> name, no matter where it goes on the fly tree.
>
The Code mandates that a species name be combined with the name of the 
genus it is placed in (which does not necessarily mean it is related to 
the other members of that group - just that they are *placed in* the 
same genus-level group). One would at least hope that a competent 
taxonomist would place things into genera based on hypotheses of 
relationship, otherwise it might have a little trouble passing peer 
review. Be that as it may, if a taxonomist moves melanogaster into a 
different genus, it MUST take the new combination with that genus name. 
If nowhere else, this is spelled out in Art. 48 - if two species are 
congeneric then they must, by definition, be combined with the same 
genus name. If placement changes, a name MUST change; any proposal to 
allow combinations to be fixed violates the Code, so advocating this 
approach is the same as advocating against the Code.

Just because a phylogeny might be a more effective representation of 
relationships doesn't mean you can insert a phylogeny into a printed 
textbook, or newspaper, or field guide, *every time* a scientific name 
is printed NOR can you insert a phylogeny every time a person says a 
scientific name on TV, in a movie, or on the radio. Your idea won't work 
for all contexts, and we unfortunately have to accommodate the "lowest 
common denominator".

Sincerely,

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




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