[Taxacom] manuscript name question

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Sat Oct 3 13:03:43 CDT 2015

On 10/3/15 9:28 AM, John Grehan wrote:
> Since I am not so deeply involved in nomenclatural issues, and even though
> I might find an answer somewhere in the rules of zoological nomenclature, I
> would be grateful for advice regarding a digital image that I have for a
> specimen which was apparently given a manuscript name (according to some we
> sites, although I have not seen the manuscript itself - perhaps something I
> can follow up on with the institution with his archives) but never
> published.
> I obtained this image as part of a series of images from a museum to post
> on my website on Hepialidae (Lepidoptera). The locality is of general
> interest as well as the appearance of the specimen. Do I post the image
> without reference to any name, do I post the image without giving locality
> data or reference to a repository (as I understand from earlier discussions
> on another taxonomic controversy over Australian snakes, anyone could make
> up a name and publish it purely on the basis of the image and knowing where
> the specimen is deposited and its collection information). Advise on this
> matter would be gratefully received.
Since 2000, the Code requires an explicit statement that a taxon name is 
new in order for a name to be available, in part to prevent "accidental" 
establishment of new taxa, so YOU are safe in putting up a photo, even 
if you give it a provisional name. However, your concern that someone 
ELSE could take your image and data and use them to produce a 
minimally-compliant description (to claim authorship for themselves) is 
well-founded, because (as you note) this sort of thing has happened 
before, sometimes invoking Article 73.1.4 as a "loophole". If you are 
legitimately concerned, then there are no steps you can take at present 
to prevent the unethical "repurposing" of your image by a third party in 
order to establish a new taxon. This is precisely one of the examples 
Commissioner Harvey and myself raised when we solicited opinions from 
the taxonomic community as to whether they felt the Code should include 
formal measures delineating ethical behavior, such that works violating 
the rules could be declared unavailable. There was no clear consensus, 
so the status quo - where the Code of Ethics (ICZN Code Appendix A) is 
simply a list of recommendations with no penalties for their violation - 
will stand for the foreseeable future. YOU, collectively, had the power 
to decide whether to permit such behavior or not, and only a tiny 
handful of you responded. The Commission will abide by the community 
consensus, but we can't read people's minds. At present, the only 
Code-compliant option for eliminating such names is via the LAN 
mechanism (Article 79), which is incredibly arduous. The "boycotting" of 
names is something presently being used within the herpetological 
community, but this is action outside of the Code; the Commission can 
neither condone it nor prevent it, so in that sense, it is always an 
option. That is, if someone steals your photo and uses it to name a new 
taxon against your wishes, make the theft public, and ask that no one 
acknowledge its existence - refuse to include it in checklists or 
catalogs, or publish it in any capacity that would treat it as an 
available name. If no one *ever* treats it as an available name other 
than the person who named it, then it ceases to be a problem for the 
taxonomic community, even if the Code formally allows for it to be 


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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