atom feed145 messages in edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacomRe: [Taxacom] Does the species name h...
FromSent OnAttachments
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 11:18 am 
Quicke, Donald L JJun 18, 2012 11:45 am 
Frederick W. SchuelerJun 18, 2012 11:57 am 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 12:51 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 12:51 pm 
Karen CranstonJun 18, 2012 1:09 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 1:25 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 1:35 pm 
Chris ThompsonJun 18, 2012 2:28 pm 
Roger BurksJun 18, 2012 2:30 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 2:42 pm 
Doug YanegaJun 18, 2012 2:55 pm 
Vladimir GusarovJun 18, 2012 2:57 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 3:02 pm 
Neal EvenhuisJun 18, 2012 3:11 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 3:14 pm 
David CampbellJun 18, 2012 3:17 pm 
Doug YanegaJun 18, 2012 3:23 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 3:34 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 3:48 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 3:51 pm 
Roderic PageJun 18, 2012 3:58 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 3:58 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 4:07 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 4:20 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 4:52 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 4:53 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 4:56 pm 
Bob MesibovJun 18, 2012 5:04 pm 
Chris ThompsonJun 18, 2012 5:32 pm 
115 later messages
Subject:Re: [Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?
From:Roderic Page (r.p@bio.gla.ac.uk)
Date:Jun 18, 2012 12:51:51 pm
List:edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom

Dear Donald,

It's more than changing endings, it's changing the genus in the first place that
I object to. It's all very well naming things, but to change the names
subsequently seems unjustified.

The assumption that only an expert is interested, or that expertise is readily
available, seems short-sighted. So we're producing knowledge that is useful to
only a few? We can't anticipate anyone being interested in these taxa down the
line? If that's the case, then it's clearly there's not much point funding
taxonomy ;)

Isn't it possible that as we see a flood of metagenomics and DNA barcoding we
will see people trying to make sense of those sequences, try to attach them to
taxa that have been described (and for which we may have ecological
information?). There will be people (like me) looking at sequences,
distributions, phylogenies, trying to link this stuff together, only to be
confronted with a mass of names that make sense to some (possibly dead) expert.

Regards

Rod

On 18 Jun 2012, at 19:45, Quicke, Donald L J wrote:

Hi Rob and all

I am not sure what all this is about. I agree fundamentally that names should
not change gender endings, and people are not consistent with that despite what
the codes say. fank Bisby was involved in writing software that could tell
blaberius and blaberiae were possibly the same thing - whilst fuzzy, at least
taht would flag issues.

But, as a practicing taxonomist who has revised many genera, the key thing is to
know what species names are associated with a genus. ideally also with a date,
author name, and reference. But even with only a sp name, any expert in a group
will eventually trace the publication or determine within reasonable doubt,
nomina nuda ... and just get on with it. That's the job of the taxonomist - to
know which nominal taxa reasonably need to be considered, endeavour to find
their types, and do the job.

In terms of making automated global databases, it's definitely an issue. But who
actually needs them? I know that that might sound like heresy, but please tell
us who needs those names who is not already an expert or know/be-in-contact-with
an expert.

For all the groups that (to some extent misguidedly though understandably)
people use for global assessments (birds, mammals, butterflies, some plants,
maybe some fish, reptiles and amphibians) it really doesn't much matter if valid
species totals for any one place are only 95% accurate.

If someone in say Unbangistan, gets bitten by a cobra, it is unlikely to matter
that the sp the local GP identified it as from their local field guide is
actually a cryptic sp with a valid name lost in synonymy - the antivenom will
either work and they'll live or keep their arm, or they'll die or lose their
arm.

It is disheartening that having revised loads of genera, nearly all of the spp
that i have described or synonymised have never been published on since (except
rarely by myself). They will be no doubt in 20, 40, 70, 100 years when someone
else next revises the group. The vast majority of spp are not important in any
way that is currently understood. Of course some may be keystone spp, but we'll
probably never know.

Pure nomenclatural accuracy is seldom of any critical importance. It is sad, but
for most groups of organisms, that is true.

so, in creating spp lists for countries, regions, national parks, areas of
conservation concern, it simply is irrelevant whether they have 200, 1000, 5000
spp of Noctuidae and what the exact names of those are. If they have 5000
noctuids they probably also have 800 sp of birds, 100 of mammals and 500 of
butterflies - i.e. they are a biodiverse place. If they have only 20 noctuids
they are probably a disaster area or the arctic.

As far as i can tell, when a taxonomist revises any group, they usually have a
pretty good grasp of what spp names they have to deal with, locate types,
descriptions of, etc.

donald

________________________________________ From: taxa@mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxa@mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on
behalf of Roderic Page [r.p@bio.gla.ac.uk] Sent: 18 June 2012 19:18 To: taxacom Subject: [Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?

OK, I know this is what we do, but my question is "why do we do this?"

As names change over time it becomes a major challenge to find everything
published about a taxon. Some groups, such as frogs, are especially prone to
name changes as their classification is unstable. Frogs have a pretty good
online database detailing name changes, but most animal groups lack this,
leaving people like me floundering around trying to make sense of multiple names
why may or may not be for the same thing.

It seems to me that names should be unique and stable. We don't change the name
of a species called "africanus" if we discover that the specimen locality was
actually from Australia, nor do we change the name "maximus" if we subsequently
discover a bigger species. But we do if we move it to a new genus. Why?

Presumably it's because we like the idea of being able to interpret the name -
two members of the same genus are presumably more closely related to each other
than to a species in a different genus. But demonstrably that is often untrue
(otherwise we wouldn't have all the name changes due to moving species to
different genera), and we've learnt not to interpret the name literally when
inferring any biological attributes, so why the desire to have the name match
some current notion of classification? Why not simply accept that we can't infer
relationships from the name?

It seems to be that if we simply stopped trying to make names reflect
classification, at a stroke we'd remove perhaps the primary cause of
nomenclatural instability. For example, the recent case of Drosophila
melanogaster would be a non-issue. It's "Drosophila melanogaster" regardles sof
whether it's nested in the part of the fly tree that includes Sophophora. The
relationships of the taxon would have no bearing on its name.

Discuss.

--------------------------------------------------------- Roderic Page Professor of Taxonomy Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graham Kerr Building University of Glasgow Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.p@bio.gla.ac.uk Tel: +44 141 330 4778 Fax: +44 141 330 2792 Skype: rdmpage AIM: rodp@aim.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192 Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

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--------------------------------------------------------- Roderic Page Professor of Taxonomy Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graham Kerr Building University of Glasgow Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.p@bio.gla.ac.uk Tel: +44 141 330 4778 Fax: +44 141 330 2792 Skype: rdmpage AIM: rodp@aim.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192 Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

_______________________________________________

Taxacom Mailing List Taxa@mailman.nhm.ku.edu http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom

The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of these
methods:

(1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org

(2) a Google search specified as: site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom
your search terms here