Message 2005-12-0085: PhyloCode: Re: Sereno's (2005) new definitions

Mon, 26 Dec 2005 19:24:19 -0800 (PST)

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Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 19:24:19 -0800 (PST)
From: [unknown]
To: Phylocode <>,
Subject: PhyloCode: Re: Sereno's (2005) new definitions

[crossposted to the PhyloCode mailing list for discussuon]

I had written:

<<That would not be a tremendously difficult and problematic issue. I=
that Hermann von Meyer has been dead over a century, so someone ELSE =
will have
to "register" the name FOR him, or do it for themselves.>>

David Marjanovic ( wrote:

<Er... yes, of course. Where's the problem?>

  Imperiosity. It would be required to not only get a name published,=
 but to
get it approved for validity by a system of people (or in fact, a _pe=
whom will choose to do so only via application of the definition. Whi=
le I think
that a name is only really applicable if it is clearly defined, as su=
ch species
lack definitions in the draft PhyloCode (dPC) and thus do not get def=
unless you start making some real odd choices the dPC doesn't cover a=
nd thus
would not, upon active use, be able to "control."=20

  Furthermore, that person (note the singular, as suggested by the dP=
authors) will determine this process, priority, etc. No recommendatio=
n in the
current dPC Article 8 currently involves checks and balances. In the =
problems of application of nomenclature could be handled by the struc=
ture of
the rules in the ICZN at the family, genus, and species levels, the l=
which have been regarded historically as the most dynamic and "import=
ant" names
in biological taxonomic systems. The authorship, timing, and relegati=
on of
database nomenclature, for example, could become easily out of sync w=
ith the
publication record, simply because of this process; those who do not =
follow the
dPC have no worry, but those who think only those dPC names they go o=
ver are
"real" will have BIG issues.

  I might take this further, by arguing that the application of the r=
and registrator require paper trails, at least digitally, but the pur=
pose of
these has no legitimate, simply legalistic, purpose, for the sake of
publication. Their existence seems superfluous. Yet aside from this, =
Art. 8 of
the dPC considers (and elsewhere advocates that) names not validated =
in this
database are not valid, whether published or not. This leads to issue=
s of
synonymy, for when names ARE registered, they can cause a distruption=
 in the
historical record and their argument of precedence as has been histor=
recognized by the ICBN and ICZN, such as (close to home, perhaps) fin=
ding its
popularity warranting of *Brontosaurus* Marsh, 1879 over *Apatosaurus=
* Marsh,
1877, or *crassipes* von Meyer, 1857 over *lithographica* von Meyer, =
Issues of priority would either have to be rewritten, or some names, =
their existence, simply ignored or forgotten. I have suggested, perha=
ps not
here, that a direct transposition of the current ICZN taxonomic Nomin=
Conservanda and such be adopted, simply to avoid this, and all names =
held valid be considered valid by the dPC officiators. This seems to =
have been
met with silence. Only new names would have to undergo the registrati=
process, thereby avoiding the issue of trying to register names out o=
f current
sequence based on some person's personal idealism about what names ar=
e better
than others (on that person's OWN considerations). There is no public
discussion of this issue, yet it is simply _done_, or is done by some=
group. Or should we redecide all ICZN/ICBN acts of rejection and cons=

<Well, either you discuss that with her, ideally resulting in a coaut=

  I have discussed this with Dr. Clarke. The results of that discussi=
on are not
public, so I will not air them here. However, the issue of coauthorin=
g in any
case is a problematic area I touched on before: most systematists are=
 out there
working on their own phylogenies, and many will reject the ideas of o=
based on their personal view points. There are taxonomic "cliques" (i=
n American
parlance) as much as there are those who are "lone wolves" (more parl=
going about their own way and rejecting community efforts). That said=
, there
are some who gather large groups to compound ideas and form real comm=
efforts on taxonomy, but these are the exception, not the rule. The t=
for few specialists in research position dealing in major inter-taxon
systematics (and thus those more prone to reviewing and revising such=
tends to cause some, such as latter days' Steel or Gray, to revise sw=
aths of
nomenclature on their own prerogative, or Seeley, often without much =
as a "by
your leave" and often getting into nomenclature wars. There was in fa=
ct a minor
"war" between Joel Cracraft [at the AMNH] and Storrs Olson [at the Sm=
involved in "order-based" avian systematics that eventually led to Cr=
acraft in
rejecting the ranks in favor of the then imminent Sibley and Alqvist,=
work was also, while lauded, largely rejected by order-based systemat=
including Alan Feduccia. If even these leading researchers couldn't a=
gree on
the nature of systematics, how should we get them, or me and those wh=
o disagree
with me or I with them, into a single paper together?

  We need to establish the principles of the system before we start t=
rying to
overhaul another and simply say "here's the only one you have, I gues=
Advocating that the old validities are valid under the new system is =
one way to
start clean, though it's rather dirty, but that's what happens with h=
just like organizing a harddrive. Today, we have a system founded on =
ranks, but
surprisingly, a lot of the arguments of precedence and foundation can=
 be found
in the dPC, which honors its forbearers' insight. But while rank-base=
d practice
in the ICZN and ICBN are deeply entrenched, they are not so innate as=
 to render
their removal destructive, simply by revising the elements that refer=
 to ranks,
and allowing all suprageneric names to be establishable as clades, an=
d have
provisions for definitional addenda to the establishment of names, wi=
ll cause
more ease I think than many people realize.

<My proposal is maybe 10 years -- plus some pressure so that the disc=
actually happens!>


<This may not be the right day to say it, but I don't think any of th=
rank-based codes can be saved... sorry for the pun.>

  People are human, and whatever our pure-minded motives, names have =
a property
value, signified by the authorship. They will fight over their proper=
ty, as
much as they should, since it in the end signifies their scientific
acheivements and establishes their history. Many, such as Dobzhansky,=
 or Lyell,
have been able to establish their names through works of LOGIC and ob=
without having to resort to scientific names, but I dare say many of =
us now are
tied to our names and find it important to hold on them, since they u=
indicate we will be working on those areas for decades to come. Seren=
o and his
former and current students today established themselves on discoveri=
es that
they are still working on, and this will continue.

  However, the discussion IS happening, in research papers, textbooks=
, review
papers, and so forth. It will take time, much of it hammering out wha=
t the
principles should or could be. In fact, after a decade of de Queiroz =
Gauthier publishing on the abandonment of ranks, we come back to rese=
who use the Linnaean system and yet offer definitions, consider parts=
 of the
ICZN perhaps more suggestive than enforcing, and even some parts whic=
h are
suggestions to be more powerful. To get the CZN to agree, of course, =
is going
to be HARD work, and it requires a compounding response in the biolog=
community. This will take DECADES (yah, pessimistically).


Jaime A. Headden

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

Yahoo! for Good - Make a difference this year.=20


Feedback to <> is welcome!