[Taxacom] What is the relative prevalence of different classes of synonymy, in plants?

Ross Mounce rcm61 at cam.ac.uk
Tue Nov 22 08:45:32 CST 2016

Hello TAXACOM'ers,

In the context of plants, and using terminology from Remsen 2016 (The 
use and limits of scientific names in biological informatics) 

I was wondering if anyone had data (or knew of a source to cite) on the 
relative proportion of name changes that are due to:

a) orthographic, lexical or nomenclatural synonyms


b) taxonomic synonyms

When applied to conservation biology e.g. IUCN Red List assessments, if 
a name is merely an orthographic, lexical or nomenclatural synonym there 
is no detrimental outcome on the validity of the original Red List 

However, if the name (and taxon concept) under which the RL assessment 
was published is now considered a taxonomic synonym - this can and often 
does invalidate the Red List assessment of that taxon for many purposes.

If I wrote "Most synonymies are simply name changes from one genus to 
another genus, or a change of the gender of species name, without 
changing the underlying taxon circumscription"  would I be correct? Does 
anyone have data or published sources which provide hard evidence on this?

The Plant List is wonderful for determining if something is a synonym, 
but I wonder if in future iterations we could further annotate all 
synonyms with the exact type of synonym they are e.g. orthographic, 
nomenclatural or taxonomic -- it really matters! If anyone knows of an 
information resource that can do this, please let me know.



Ross Mounce, PhD
Software Sustainability Institute Fellow 2016
Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

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