Message 2001-03-0009: Galtonia (a test case?)

Sun, 11 Mar 2001 09:02:02 -0500

[Previous by date - Re: GALTONIA (a test case?)]
[Next by date - Fwd: PhyloCode Test Case (Siphonophora?)]
[Previous by subject - Fwd: species and clades]
[Next by subject - Gender of species names?]

Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 09:02:02 -0500
From: John McNeill <>
To: "<\"PhyloCode Mailing List\"" <>
Subject: Galtonia (a test case?)

Not being exactly convinced of the need for a PhyloCode, I generally =
prefer to be an observer than a participant of this List.  However, the =
issues of what has been called inter-Code homonymy are much broader than =
the PhyloCode, though it is excellent to see that these are being =
considered in this context.

Jaime  A. Headden ( 10 March) wrote:=20

> A list of reference homonyms would be ideal. Perhaps a perusal of the=20
> Literature from Linnaeus onward should be done and cross-checked so=20
> that homonyms in Plantae and Animalia and Fungi can be evaluated for=20
> research on use and establishing committees on priotity. The sooner this
> is done the less harm in conflict in whose names gets validated.=20

This is, in fact, a current project of the International Committee for =
Bionomenclature, an inter-union committee of IUBS and IABMS, perhaps =
better known as the bunch who brought you the Draft BioCode!  This issue =
was, of course, an evident concern for the BioCode and in that context we =
did evaluate the scale of the problem, something that the current thread =
seems to be underestimating.  I assure you Galtonia is far less than even =
the tip of the iceberg.

We do, in fact, know approximately the scale of the problem.  This was =
summarized by me in a paper given at ICSEB V in Budapest in 1997 (McNeill, =
J. 1997. Key issues to be addressed. Pp. 17 - 40 in: Hawksworth, D. L. =
(ed.), The new bionomenclature: the BioCode debate. Biology International =
Special Issue 34.).  Table 2 is the most relevant.  "Biology International"=
 is available through IUBS, 51 boul. de Montmorency, 75016, Paris =
>From this table, it can be seen that nearly 9,000 botanical generic names =
are to be found as genera in the Zoological Record database (13.6% of the =
total number of botanical generic names), and of these 3,554 appear to be =
in current use in botany (some 5% of all botanical generic names).  The =
table also gives numbers of bacterial generic names that are homonyms of =
zoological or botanical ones, and indicates that there are also at least =
15 tri-Code homonyms.=20

Like the existing Codes for botany, zoology and bacteriology (ICBN, ICZN, =
BC) -- but perhaps unlike the PhyloCode? (!) -- the BioCode is concerned =
with stability of names over time.  Hence it was manifest to us that we =
had to live with existing inter-Code homonymy, but try to minimize it for =
the future.  As a step towards this, the St. Louis International Botanical =
Congress in 1999 approved a new Recommendation (Rec. 54A) in the ICBN: =
"Authors naming new botanical taxa should, as far as is practicable, avoid =
using such names as already exist for zoological and bacteriological =
taxa.".  A similar recommendation (1A) appears in the fourth edition =
(1999) of the ICZN.

Phil Cantino (9 March)  clearly described the independence of the Codes =
with respect to homonymy, but there is one exception to this: the =
Bacteriological Code excludes independency of nomenclature between it and =
the names of "algae and fungi" and "protozoa" (Prin. 2).  In consequence, =
generic names such as Microcyclus and Pirella, later homonyms of fungal =
generic names governed by the ICBN, have been replaced for the bacterial =
genera by names (Ancylobacter and Pirellula) that would not otherwise have =

The good news is that only one inter-Code homonym is currently known at =
the species lever (Pieris japonica =AF Ericaceae & Lepidoptera), but there =
are almost certainly others.

Discussion of this topic also took place on the Taxacom listserver a =
number of years ago, but I am not certain that the archive URL is still =
current. Paul Dessart, Bruxelles (, as part of =
an ongoing comparison of the botanical and zoological Codes, accumulated a =
list of more than 140 homonymous pairs of generic names in current use =
(see archives of  (now for =
September 1996 then at http// =20
Finally, I picked up this thread on the PhyloCode List but it seems also =
to be active simultaneously on other lists with which I am unfamiliar =
(e.g. dinosaurs and vert. palaeo); if anyone wishes to cross-post, they =
are welcome to do so.

John McNeill=20

John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum;
    Honorary Associate, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Mailing address:
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, Scotland, U.K.
Telephone:    +44-131-248-2862;  fax: +44-131-248-2901
Home office:  +44-162-088-0651;  fax: +44-162-088-0342
e-mail: or


Feedback to <> is welcome!