[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".


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)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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