[Taxacom] Unique Identifier and Science

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Wed Jan 15 17:06:23 CST 2014

> Although standardized common names are gaining in popularity and usage in
> various contexts, they actually have the same basic problems as Latinized
> binomials.  There are in fact different interpretations of the rules,
> arguments over the proper format (capitalization, hyphenation, etc.),
> changes as systematic concepts change, occasional homonyms to sort out,
> etc.  Mainly they look better because they take advantage of the 250 years
> of work that has gone into the present set of biological names and so build
> off of the existing nomenclatural and systematic situation.

Newly standardized names have three major problems.  First, they need to
retain a clear link to the existing nomenclature and all the data tied to
that.  Second, they need to be easily recognized and used.  Third, it needs
to address the issue of changing names (primarily due to changes in
systematic rather than nomenclatural issues, but confusion will result if,
for example, a new system name is linked to the concept of Aus bus as of
January 1, 2020 and then in 2021 it is determined that Aus bus should be
split into two species.  )

Not that these could not be overcome, but that they tend to be
underestimated.  A number of proposed new name systems look like they could
work well for computers, but provide unwieldy and/or highly unmemorable
character strings not well-suited to actual human usage.  Proposals to make
the specific epithet the new name run into major problems with homonymity.
Even if author, date, and page are added (making it unwieldy), there are
enough examples of authors so fond of a particular epithet as to use it
more than once on a page to raise concerns.

Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Box 7270
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

More information about the Taxacom mailing list