Message 2001-02-0028: Species and genus names [was: RE: Genus names]

Wed, 07 Feb 2001 16:10:41 -0600 (CST)

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Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2001 16:10:41 -0600 (CST)
From: "Jonathan R. Wagner" <znc14@TTACS.TTU.EDU>
Subject: Species and genus names [was: RE: Genus names]

At 03:28 PM 2/6/01 -0500, Gerry Moore wrote:
>Dear Dr. Wagner and all,
        Sad to say, not Dr. (yet). You may all feel free to call me Jon,
Jonathan, Wagner, or, in a pinch, "hey you."

>  I think any uninomial can be converted from traditional nomenclature into
>phylogenetic nomenclature, although clade names are not supposed to be based
>on specific epithets (Art. 10). Binomials (e.g., species names) are not
>covered. Phil C. and Kevin deQ correct me if I'm wrong.

        A on the subject of species names, one which I believe Cantino et
al. should perhaps have addressed more directly, one way to look at the
"problem" of species names is to look at it as a problem of GENUS names.
        Every species name includes (let's all repeat after me) four parts:
generic epithet, species epither, author, and year of publication. In *most*
cases, the (lower case) species epithet+author+year triplet is sufficient to
unambiguously identify the entity in question. In situations where it is
not, adding a letter to the end of the year, approximating the order of
publication as closely as possible, can be added when the names are registered.
        This provides for maximum commonality with current practice, as it
only violates one principle of Linnean taxonomy, that of obligate binomials,
and it only adds one element, and then only in extreme cases. It also avoids
hyphens, dots, dashs, squiggles, @ signs, and all other detritus of the
computer age, which said symbols WILL prevent conventional systematists from
taking our work seriously. As far as I am concerned, this is the simplest,
safest, most reasonable way to handle the species-name question: as a
virtual non-issue.
        However, what to do with genera? This rank has been polluted to no
end (as has, to a lesser extend, the family) by it obligatory nature. Some
neontologists may not be aware of the RAMPANT proliferation of monotypic
genera among fossil groups. Indeed, it seems that some feel a new dinosaur
species (for example) is not valid unless it has a new genus name (and, in
the case of theropod dinosaurs and traditional systematists, often a new
species). This, coupled with the constant threat of paraphyletic genera, has
lead to a profusion of genus names, many of whcih are difficult to deal with.
        I have taken the preemptory tack of excessive lumping, combining
genera which have been recognized as distinct for often nearly a century,
but which are clearly and unequivocally sister groups. In dinosaurs, where
subtle morphological variation is outwitted by even subtler taxonomic
distinction, it is relatively easy to do this. However, sooner or later, we
will have to decide what to do with all these names.
        I am with the interpretation above: they should be free for use jsut
as any other clade name, but with the strong recommendation that they be
very conservatively defined (i.e., with many specifiers). However,
obviously, my opinion is not the only one under consideration. Many of the
alternative naming schemes proposed in the Cantino et al. paper require that
genus names not be available for naming as clades. As such, I am afraid I
must propose another addendum, which I shall send along shortly.

        Jonathan R. Wagner
     Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
  "Why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic lifeform?" - Obi-Wan Kenobi


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