atom feed145 messages in edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom[Taxacom] Does the species name have ...
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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 
119 later messages
Subject:[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 11:18:22 am
List:edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom

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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