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

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Mon May 30 12:15:16 CDT 2016

Once again, as I expressed this earlier:

Nielsen et al. 1996/2000 would have been incorrect in suggesting that 
not applying gender agreement in Lepidoptera was something new at the 
time, something that appeared in the preceding decades. This has been a 
tradition with its origins dating back to a deliberate decision taken by 
Linnaeus himself in 1758. It was Linnaeus himself who decided not to use 
changeable adjectives for lepidopteran names.

The argument that "anyone" in zoology would be in a similar position is 
not substantiated in the frame of this historial background. 
Lepidopterists have a special situation that can certainly not be 
applied to other groups that do not have this background.

It will not be difficult to specify rules to protect the common usage of 
lepidopteran names with endings that have been changed according to the 
rules of gender agreement in the past. This should be driven by the 
intention to protect the stability of names, in a sense that this 
includes their endings. I would however suggest that changing endings in 
lepidopteran adjectival names should probably better be avoided in the 
future, and that to incorporate such a message in the Code, so that the 
default action would be no changement any more.

In summary: The currently used lepidopteran names with their commonly 
used endings names should be protected.

No matter if in agreement with the Latin rules or not. There are also 
butterfly names of which the endings have incorrectly been changed 
somewhen in the past and afterwards these names have been commonly 
accepted in their incorrect forms. Also these "junk names" should be 



Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut
Berliner Str. 28, 37073 Göttingen
Phone +49 551 395536

Am 30.05.2016 um 17:49 schrieb John Grehan:
> 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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