[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Weakley, Alan weakley at bio.unc.edu
Tue May 14 18:08:13 CDT 2013

I don't really care about glory.  Not the issue.

So, it would be fine for someone to publish a new genus name for every species, such that any time a genus is split, a decade or a hundred years in the future, that name would have priority?  I think this would be taxonomic vandalism.

From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 7:02 PM
To: Weakley, Alan; Wolfgang Wuster
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

That is a nonsense problem! There is no "glory" in proposing a new name. If an old and obscure name already exists for a newly recognised taxon, then that's all good, no need to bother creating a new one. It is a mere technicality that the author of the name is someone other than the person who recognised the taxon as new most recently. The "glory" (such that it is) is in being the author of the publication which newly recognises the taxon, not in being the author of the name! Get real! Repeat after me: "There is no glory in naming ..."!


From: "Weakley, Alan" <weakley at bio.unc.edu<mailto:weakley at bio.unc.edu>>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz<mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>>; Wolfgang Wuster <w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk<mailto:w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk>>
Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:54 AM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Wolfgang is making the inarguable point that many of the names (unless suppressed) WILL have to be taken up and used in the future, because future results will (in some cases) show that a split is warranted and the oldest available name for the new entity is one of these (it's type being contained within the circumscription of a future genus and no older name being available).

In North American botany, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz must be credited with the ultimate sawed-off nomenclatural shotgun in North American botany.  Kind of a sawed-off shotgun equipped with an unending machine-gun style ammo clip.  If molecular phylogeny indicates that a genus needs to be split, it is likely that Rafinesque already named it 180 years ago, through some combination of erudition and random, heavy fire.  Like the recent split of Osmanthus, whereby North American Osmanthus needs a new name, and Rafinesque had kindly supplied not one, but two (Cartrema being the winner).

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 6:31 PM
To: Wolfgang Wuster
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

What we need is a coping strategy for dealing with poor quality taxonomy and its associated nomenclature. Mostly it is easy. If Hoser or whoever splits a genus into 10 genera, then you just treat them all as synonyms if you disagree. This makes the author of those new genera look foolish. Most such authors will probably take the hint before too long ...

From: Wolfgang Wuster <w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk<mailto:w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk>>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz<mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>>
Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu<mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

On 14/05/2013 22:35, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

Perhaps, be we also need a unified system of taxonomy and nomenclature, i.e. not one which subgroups (like herpetologists) want to tailor to their own best interests, because everyone's best interests are not the same, and you can't please all the people all of the time. We really don't want factionalism in taxonomy/nomenclature, and we particularly don't want factions deciding what is or isn't "scientific" (or rather, they can do so, but they can't ram it down other people's throats outside the faction)...
The only "ramming down throats" is being performed by those who exploit the Code to force others to use some of their hundreds of unfounded names in those cases where the taxa concerned are found valid and without a senior synonym. I agree that a unified system of nomenclature is highly desirable. However, you cannot expect workers on one group of organisms to simply hand over much of their future nomenclatural output to a few fringe elements operating outside of the normal constraints of science just to "take one for the team". Herpetologists have already been there over the Wells & Wellington affair. While I am by and large in favour of elitismophobia, I don't think we should be blinded by it when it comes to recognising and acting against the extremes of taxonomic vandalism.

At the end of the day, the proof of the pudding will lie in subsequent usage. The suggestions of put forth by Kaiser et al. have gained considerable support from a number of major herpetological societies and bodies. If a move towards translating them into nomenclatural acts gains traction in herpetology, then relevant publications will start to appear. If no consensus emerges, then they won't. Time will tell.

Dr. Wolfgang Wüster  -  Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences    Bangor University
Environment Centre Wales
Bangor LL57  2UW                Wales, UK
Tel: +44 1248 382301  Fax: +44 1248 382569
E-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk<mailto:w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk> http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/

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