Message 2001-02-0053: Codes

Sun, 11 Feb 2001 16:39:30 -0500

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Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 16:39:30 -0500
From: Gerry Moore <>
Subject: Codes

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<P>I. Co-opting existing codes</P>
<P>In contrast to P. Cantino’s "two systems operating in parallel approach", D. Hillis recently wrote that he viewed the PhyloCode as an "upgrade" ("version 2") of the of the old system ("version 1") and one that should "co-opt" the existing system. Such a view is quite different then that put forward in the Preface of the PhyloCode. Also, Hillis noted that most of the resistance he had seen to the PhyloCode was from people who objected to the creation of a competing parallel system. This is different from the perspective I took away from the Nomenclatural Section at the 1999 International Botanical Congress (note: the symposia on phylogenetic nomenclature was not part of the Section). Phylogenetic nomenclature was discussed in an official capacity because a proposal was put before the Section to consider permitting the valid publication of "unranked" taxon names (it was defeated by a simple show of hands) and there was also much watercooler discussion of the topic during breaks. My take on those discussion
<P>II. Under the PhyloCode we can do everything that we do with the existing codes</P>
<P>If this were the case then it would certainly make sense to regard the PhyloCode as the "version 2" of the existing system. However, I disagree with this assessment. Under phylogenetic nomenclature names are formally attached to clades. Barring intervention by a committee, they remain attached to that clade regardless of how the content of the clade changes with changes in ideas about phylogeny. Under traditional nomenclature names are not formally attached to clades. I regard this difference between the two systems as so fundamental that it is inappropriate to characterize one as simply a newer version of the other. Thus I do not agree with Hillis’s assessment that "the PhyloCode can be designed so that it does everything the old codes do…" . The two systems may use many of the same names but the names are defined in very different ways. The task before the systematic community now is to decide which one is better. I believe that there is not enough evidence yet to make a clear judgment here. It is simp
<P>III. The Species problem</P>
<P>In his recent posts Hillis has stressed that the PhyloCode should incorporate rules for species before any official status is accorded to the code. Under such a set of rules what would the status of names be that were created under the existing system? Would species names also require formal conversion from the traditional system into the phylogenetic system? Who would be responsible for handling the issues relating to conservation and rejection of species names? Would the standing committees that deal with these matters under the existing system be "co-opted" by new committees under the PhyloCode? </P>
<P>Gerry Moore</P>
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