[Taxacom] Why stability?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Apr 29 18:15:42 CDT 2015

What Mary said is, IMHO, somewhat mixed up and confused! One should cite the authors of the original combination primarily for nomenclatural (not taxonomic reasons). Botany confuses the issue by making combinations a nomenclatural matter. Zoology treats them (almost entirely) as taxonomic. The "reference used for the identification" is another matter altogether. Most IDs published in ecological studies are done by people ("experts"), who, like myself, identify taxa based more on experience/memory with relevant collections and familiarity with the local fauna, rather than by way of a specific publication. Many species can only be identified by a historical chain of IDs, hopefully involving comparision to the type at some stage along the way. They cannot be identified from the literature.


On Thu, 30/4/15, Mary Barkworth <Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
 To: "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 10:51 AM
 IMO. It is not the lack
 of a catchy name that has prevented the practice of citing
 the reference used for identification in giving a scientific
 name but the insistence by taxonomists that one should cite
 the original author(s) of the combination and that this
 provides accuracy of interpretation. It was not until the
 Vienna Botanical Congress of 2005 (or thereabouts) that the
 wording the botanical code read "In publications,
 particularly those dealing with taxonomy and nomenclature,
 it **may** be desirable, even when no bibliographic
 reference to the protologue is made, to cite the author(s)
 of the name concerned ...". Before that it read as if
 one always had to cite the authors - and all journal and
 book editors wanted the works they published seen to be good
 science so they required citation of the original authors
 and people that became faculty said it was necessary too.
 So we have to change a culture. That is
 always difficult.  I have been told I do not understand
 nomenclature for  arguing that one should cite the
 reference used to determine the name (a flora or some such).
 The objections that I have heard are that someone is simply
 using the name they were told by someone else or that they
 know the plant so well they do not know whether it has ever
 had another concept, or that they are using the concept they
 have developed. 
 One reason I like the
 Symbiota data entry form is that it provides for citing the
 reference used (although perhaps it should be visible by
 default?) but taxonomists have spent decades convincing
 people that, to be good science, the original authors of
 scientific names should be cited. We should not be surprised
 if it takes a similar length of time to change the practice.
 Do those of you that are journal editors ask for information
 as to the reference used for an identification or for the
 original authors of the combination. 
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