Message 2005-12-0054: Sereno05

Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:59:00 -0600

[Previous by date - Re: Repost: An alternative to the Companion Volume?]
[Next by date - PhyloCode Taxonomic Classifications]
[Previous by subject - Returned mail: see transcript for details]
[Next by subject - Siphonophora a real test case (forget Galtonia) (fwd)]

Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:59:00 -0600
From: [unknown]
Subject: Sereno05


The points you raised are quite pertinent--regarding authorship,=20
definitional structure, the nature of revision, etc.

Several of these were presented briefly at the last meeting but did=
not generate discussion; they are discussed in my recent  paper (Syst=
Biol 54:595-619).  In addition, there is some discussion of what=20
might constitute the most involved case history--among dinosaur=20

I would be interested in feedback-positive or negative.

Best regards,

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "David Marjanovic" <>
>Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 7:14 PM
>I apologize for the somewhat unusual length; I think this matter is =
>important. Please bear with me.
>The idea of having a Companion Volume is to avoid having a gold rush=
, a
>competitive race where people run to get their favorite names and
>definitions registered first. I wholeheartedly agree with this inten=
>But the Companion Volume may not be an effective way to implement it=
. It
>has two potential big problems:
>- If too few people contribute as authors and editors, the risk rise=
s that
>unwise* or unpopular names or definitions could be set in stone. Thi=
>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 numb=
>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 fi=
>and if we run out of luck, that balance might itself lie in an undes=
>place (like containing many largely wise but rather unpopular names =
>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 coul=
>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 jou=
>we post a notice that people are encouraged to publish papers (prefe=
>collaboratively) on the nomenclature of their favorite clades. Such =
>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 th=
>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 appointe=
>thereof) looks what has become of the names in that paper: Are they =
>used? Are they being ignored? Are they still being discussed?
>_____If they are in general use, the CPN changes their registration =
>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 regist=
>_____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 =
>considered a minimum (if the CPN has too much to do, it can simply
>consider the issue later; all terms are automatically extended to th=
e point at
>which the CPN makes a decision).
>4. Upon durable registration, the authors of the names stay the same=
, and
>priority sets in. I'm not sure if the year and the registration numb=
>should change to reflect the date of durable registration, or whethe=
r they
>should stay, too, which might make the Code retroactive. This issue =
>5. After the nomenclature of a part of the tree has been set in ston=
e in
>this way, anyone can name newly discovered clades in that part and c=
>immediately register them durably, but should maybe not need to do s=
>(This should probably be restricted to new, as opposed to converted,=
>In other words, each part of the tree gets its own Companion Volume =
>its own date for the implementation of the PhyloCode.
>_____There is, by the way, a precedent for this: under the ICZN, pri=
>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 t=
>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=20
>[necessarily] entail
>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 "exper=
t" to
>contribute. So if, for example, we don't find an entomologist, we si=
>define Hexapoda, Insecta, Pterygota etc. ourselves and let the
>entomologists discuss that. Ideally this would force them to familia=
>themselves with PN and to start discussing definitions with each oth=
>- It might speed up publication because it would spare the editors t=
>decision of whose preferred names get into the Companion Volume -- s=
>include all of them! On the other hand, it might (!) be a good thing=
>our first publication were internally consistent. :-)

Paul C. Sereno
1027 E. 57th Street
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637


Feedback to <> is welcome!