[Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -oops

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Mon May 30 10:49:15 CDT 2016

With respect to the Hepialidae checklist by Nielsen et al (2000) they
stated "A more detailed protocol for checklists is described by Nielsen et
al. (1996 ) and we have followed this. The International Code of Zoological
Nomenclature , Article 31(b) states that a species-group name, if a Latin
adjective or participle in the nominative singular or if latinized, must
agree in gender with the generic name. The gender of generic names is often
doubtful or arguable and few biologists today have the classical background
to determine the origins of generic or specific names. Furthermore, if
followed, this provision would render most nomenclatural databases
inoperable. Many Lepidoptera checklists of the past two decades have
abandoned this provision of the Code in the interests of the stability of
nomenclature. In this paper we take the simple and unequivocal course of
expressing the species-group names in their original form, except where
other provisions of the Code apply."

If I understand this correctly, it basically says that the rules of
zoological nomenclature should be ignored when anyone feels that they have
a good reason to do so (whether or not others might agree over what a
'good' reason is), in this case the view that gender is "often" problematic
and few have the skills to figure it out. So why have any rules at all if
anyone or group say just don't bother?

I ran into the incongruity when dealing with a New Zealand species that was
originally umbraculatus but transferred to another genus and changed to
umbraculata by Dugdale (1994) to correspond with gender in a family level
revision. So everyone in NZ follows the revision with the gender correct
version rather than the original version. I would end up looking like a
dipstick if I ignore that general usage on my website (and the mismatch was
indeed pointed out to me by a NZ agricultural scientist). Unfortunately,
Nielsen et al (2000) do not specify where they follow original forms so the
whole situation for me still not better than looking through a car
windscreen during a mayfly emergence.

John Grehan

On Mon, May 30, 2016 at 3:47 AM, Erik Nieukerken, van <
erik.vannieukerken at naturalis.nl> wrote:

> I'd like to comment on the situation in Lepidoptera:
> I disagree that it is been disastrous. On the contrary: all major
> checklists use original spellings, including those for North America
> (Hodges et al), Europe (Fauna Europaea), Australia (Nielsen et al), the
> generic catalogue by Nye et al (online at
> http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/data/butmoth/index.html) and also the
> Global Lepidoptera Names Index LepIndex (
> http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/data/lepindex/) and a number of other
> modern global family catalogues.
> Finding the correct gender and ending has been always more difficult due to
> the artificial endings that Linnaeus invented for a number of groups of
> Lepidoptera. In fact many 19th century taxonomists never did change
> endings.
> So the case in Leps is that it is far more easy to find original spellings
> with LepIndex and for many old names using BHL and other online
> repositories than finding the correct gender of a generic name and
> derivation of the species epithet, and errors are made easily (including
> people changing endings of nouns as has been mentioned earlier in this
> thread).
> All this has lead the Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica (SEL) in 2002 to
> adopt a resolution to use original spellings. This was published here:
> http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/41371966
> Sommerer M (2002) To agree or not to agree - the question of gender
> agreement in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Nota
> Lepidopterologica 25: 191-204.
> Of course, there are some lepidopterists who disagree, and some local
> checklists use changed endings, but our experience is that changed endings
> make the situation more disastrous than original endings.
> Overall the lepidopterist community is converging towards a global use of
> original endings. The situation with Australian butterflies is really a
> pity, but still an exception and no reason to suddenly turn back to changed
> endings globally. In Europe we see almost everybody following Fauna
> Europaea.
> Erik
> 2016-05-23 7:50 GMT+02:00 Scott Thomson <scott.thomson321 at gmail.com>:
> > <>
> >
> > I do think however, as I said at the outset, we have to accept we are
> part
> > of a broader biological community. We do have to work with these other
> > users. We are greatly outnumbered also.
> >
> > I agree that putting every name back to original spelling would be a
> > disaster, as it seems to have been for the Lepidopterans. After Frank
> > Krell's comment out of curiosity I did ask Michael Braby about this for
> > specifics as I was not familiar with the issues in Lepidopterans, clearly
> > what was done there was disastrous, and still being sorted out. The fact
> > that it was yet another issue in Australia prompted my interest too.
> >
> > <>
> >
> > Cheers, Scott
> >
> >
> --
> Erik J. van Nieukerken
> researcher Entomology (Lepidoptera)
> Naturalis Biodiversity Center
> dep. of Terrestrial Zoology
> PO Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands
> [courier address: Vondellaan 55, 2332 AA Leiden]
> direct phone: +31-71-751 9682
> e-mail: nieukerken at naturalis.nl
> http://science.naturalis.nl/nieukerken
> President Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica  http://www.soceurlep.eu/
> subject editor Zookeys  http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys
> subject editor Nota Lepidopterologica http://nl.pensoft.net/
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