Message 2005-12-0039: Repost: An alternative to the Companion Volume?

Sat, 12 Nov 2005 00:35:00 +0100

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Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 00:35:00 +0100
From: [unknown]
Cc: "Jonathan R. Wagner" <>
Subject: Repost: An alternative to the Companion Volume?

I am reposting this (with a few small modifications) because I think =
year's congress season is over, so more people might read it now than=
first time...

----- Original Message -----
=46rom: "David Marjanovic" <>
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 7:14 PM

I apologize for the somewhat unusual length; I think this matter is v=
important. Please bear with me.

The idea of having a Companion Volume is to avoid having a gold rush,=
competitive race where people run to get their favorite names and
definitions registered first. I wholeheartedly agree with this intent=
But the Companion Volume may not be an effective way to implement it.=
has two potential big problems:

- If too few people contribute as authors and editors, the risk rises=
unwise* or unpopular names or definitions could be set in stone. This
would just about automatically lead the LARGE number of systematists
who have never heard of phylogenetic nomenclature to despise it, and
perhaps it would even drive away some current adherents. If the numbe=
of people in EITHER group becomes too large, the PhyloCode will go
the way of the BioCode.
- If too many people are involved, it will never reach publication.

* =3D will produce confusion when the topology changes in unforeseen =
foreseeable ways.

The balance between these dangers is probably _very_ difficult to fin=
and if we run out of luck, that balance might itself lie in an undesi=
place (like containing many largely wise but rather unpopular names a=
definitions _and_ being published 10 years from now).

Therefore I would like to suggest an, in my humble opinion, safer
alternative: Instead of having one volume published at once, we could
spread the work over time -- by implementing the PhyloCode piecemeal.
Here's how I imagine that:

1. On the website, and maybe in the first issue of the Society's jour=
we post a notice that people are encouraged to publish papers (prefer=
collaboratively) on the nomenclature of their favorite clades. Such p=
already exist; two examples (from tetrapods, where -- unfortunately -=
almost all of the current discussion on PN happens) are cited below.
_____Maybe the publication of such papers should be restricted to the
Society's journal. This way we would make sure that we wouldn't miss =
of them, and that all would abide to the PhyloCode. The disadvantage =
be that it would (probably) slow down the whole process.

2. The names in such a publication become _provisionally registered_.

3. A certain amount of time later (what about some five to ten years?=
) the
Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature (or whatever part or appointee=
thereof) looks what has become of the names in that paper: Are they b=
used? Are they being ignored? Are they still being discussed?
_____If they are in general use, the CPN changes their registration f=
provisional to durable (except maybe if the authors do not want this=
see the fourth point.
_____If they are being ignored, the CPN deletes them from the registr=
_____If the discussion is still going on, it won't be interrupted -- =
CPN extends the time of provisional registration by another term.
_____Depending on the CPN's workload, the duration of a term should b=
considered a minimum (if the CPN has too much to do, it can simply
consider the issue later; all terms are automatically extended to the=
which the CPN makes a decision).

4. Upon durable registration, the authors of the names stay the same,=
priority sets in. I'm not sure if the year and the registration numbe=
should change to reflect the date of durable registration, or whether=
should stay, too, which might make the Code retroactive. This issue n=

5. After the nomenclature of a part of the tree has been set in stone=
this way, anyone can name newly discovered clades in that part and ca=
immediately register them durably, but should maybe not need to do so=
(This should probably be restricted to new, as opposed to converted, =

In other words, each part of the tree gets its own Companion Volume a=
its own date for the implementation of the PhyloCode.
_____There is, by the way, a precedent for this: under the ICZN, prio=
starts in 1758, except for the spiders which start in 1751. (This
particular publication is simply declared by the ICZN to have been
published in 1758. We don't need to do such nonsense, we have the
registration numbers.)

I hope to have started a vigorous discussion (and to have elevated th=
impact factor of PaleoBios by an order of magnitude ;-) )!

It may not be easy to just cancel the Companion Volume; I hear there =
already a hopeful publisher, and so on. But dropping it may not be
necessary. As Mike Taylor has pointed out onlist:

"I'd just like to point out that David's proposal does not [necessari=
discarding the Companion Volume -- merely that the definitions
proposed in that volume, like all others, would originally be
_provisionally_ registered, to be affirmed or rejected after a
reasonable length of time.  That way, we'd avoid painting ourselves
into a corner."

I can see two potential advantages in this particular approach:

- It would greatly lower the threshold on who is enough of an "expert=
" to
contribute. So if, for example, we don't find an entomologist, we sim=
define Hexapoda, Insecta, Pterygota etc. ourselves and let the
entomologists discuss that. Ideally this would force them to familiar=
themselves with PN and to start discussing definitions with each othe=
- It might speed up publication because it would spare the editors th=
decision of whose preferred names get into the Companion Volume -- si=
include all of them! On the other hand, it might (!) be a good thing =
our first publication were internally consistent. :-)

- Walter G. Joyce, John F. Parham & Jacques Gauthier: Developing a pr=
for the conversion of rank-based taxon names to phylogenetically defi=
names, as exemplified by turtles, Journal of Paleontology 78(5), 989 =
-- 1013
- Michael P. Taylor & Darren Naish: The phylogenetic taxonomy [sic] o=
Diplodocoidea (Dinosauria: Sauropoda), PaleoBios 25(2), 1 -- 7 (2005)
downloadable from


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