atom feed145 messages in edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacomRe: [Taxacom] Does the species name h...
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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 
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 
James K AdamsJun 18, 2012 6:58 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 7:01 pm 
brpa...@dwu.eduJun 18, 2012 7:02 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 7:07 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 7:09 pm 
Tony...@csiro.auJun 18, 2012 7:17 pm 
Bob MesibovJun 18, 2012 8:46 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 9:01 pm 
Anne EdwardsJun 18, 2012 9:29 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 18, 2012 9:48 pm 
Stephen ThorpeJun 19, 2012 12:04 am 
Paul KirkJun 19, 2012 12:04 am 
Richard PyleJun 19, 2012 12:05 am 
Stephen ThorpeJun 19, 2012 12:07 am 
101 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 3:34:32 pm
List:edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom

Dear Doug,

On 18 Jun 2012, at 22:55, Doug Yanega wrote:

Rod wrote:

Hi Doug,

I'm puzzled as to why keeping the name unchanged is only possible with a computerised system, while changing names willy-nilly is the best method without computers?!

First, your proposal is - despite your rebuttal - the same thing as having a uninomial. If "Drosophila melanogaster" is an invariant text string used for a taxon in the actual genus Sophophora, then the only difference between that and the original proposals for uninomials is that there is no hyphen.

Sure, but just so we're clear that I'm not advocating changing the way a
binomial is written.

Second, my point is that if you disassociate the name that is used for a taxon from the taxonomic hierarchy to which it belongs (which is exactly what you are proposing, especially given that often the original genus isn't even in the same family as the actual family - e.g., many of Linnaeus' names), then you cannot possibly hope to allow non-experts to know how any given taxon fits into the classification without a functioning hyperlinked LSID system in place - because otherwise EVERY non-expert will assume the "genus name" they see in print is part of a classificatory hierarchy, since that's how it has *always* worked. That's what I mean by "cultural inertia". [Note also that this glosses over a major and horrific side-effect; in order for your proposal to work, it would have to be retroactive to all existing names, so the vast majority of species in existence would suddenly find themselves with "resurrected" pseudo-genus names - all the common butterflies would be Papilio again, the bees would be Apis, the wasps would be Vespa, and so forth - it would be the taxonomic equivalent of a zombie apocalypse! And, no, you couldn't just pick an arbitrary cutoff date for when genus names would stop being altered, because there is no consensus for the generic placement of many existing taxa!]

If the genus part of a bionomial name is subject to change then how, exactly, do
I work out where it fits in the classification? If, for example, I look at frog
names in the literature over the last few decades, they are being bounced around
all sorts of different genera. Anyone looking at this is going to struggle to
figure out what names are the same, never mind where they fit in any frog
classification. There's a big literature on phylogeny, development, ecology,
disease, etc. that uses multiple names for the same thing. Why is this a good
thing?

Why does it have to be retroactive? Why not simply decide to change existing
practice and say from some date on lets leave names as they are? If there's no
consensus, lets just make a decision (or leave it to the first person who cares
enough to tackle the group). In any event, at no point did I say let's roll
everything back and start again.

You can't just issue a worldwide memo saying "Oh, FYI, the genus names used in printed scientific names are no longer used in classification, effective immediately. - The Management". If you want to make that radical a change to how names work, then you'd be forced to publish everything online, and give people hyperlinked LSIDs so they can click on a name and see its classification. That, or you'd have to use TWO genus names from now on (plus subgenus where applicable), so part of the name would reflect the classification, and the other would reflect the original published combination. So, e.g., the European paper wasp would become "Polistes (Polistes) [Vespa] dominula dominula (Christ, 1791)". All that does is add another level of unwieldiness.

Publishing everything online wouldn't actually be a bad thing, and it's pretty
clearly where we are heading.

At no point am I suggesting we have to burden names further with their history.
Just give me a name and stop mucking around with it.

Isn't the key separating names from relationships - relationships being the task of phylogenetics.

Again, if names have always reflected relationships, suddenly disassociating them will create chaos unless you have a convenient workaround. If you can convince people that you have such a workaround, maybe you can sell people on the idea - I just don't see it happening any time soon. Besides which, bear in mind that a non-trivial number of the world's taxonomists do not or did not organize their classifications using phylogenetic principles, so the *only* evidence we have of their hypotheses of relationships are their names.

I guess I'm arguing that overloading the names with meaning (i.e., expecting
them to tell us something about relationships) is the root cause of much (most?)
synonymy, which in turn makes taxonomy difficult to use. Is it not time to
rethink this practice?

Regards

Rod

Peace,

--

Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's) http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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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

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