Message 2005-12-0086: Re: PhyloCode: Re: Sereno's (2005) new definitions

Wed, 28 Dec 2005 23:28:02 +0100

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Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 23:28:02 +0100
From: [unknown]
To: DML <>, PML <>
Subject: Re: PhyloCode: Re: Sereno's (2005) new definitions

----- Original Message -----=20
=46rom: "Jaime A. Headden" <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 4:24 AM

> [crossposted to the PhyloCode mailing list for discussuon]
> I had written:
> <<That would not be a tremendously difficult and problematic issue.=
> Imagine
> that Hermann von Meyer has been dead over a century, so someone ELS=
E will=20
> 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=20
> to
> get it approved for validity by a system of people (or in fact, a=
> _person_),
> whom will choose to do so only via application of the definition.

I don't understand what you mean. Please explain.

>  Furthermore, that person (note the singular, as suggested by the d=
> authors) will determine this process, priority, etc. No recommendat=
ion in=20
> the
> current dPC Article 8 currently involves checks and balances.

That's true, and it's one of the reasons for my proposal to greatly=
complicate the meaning of "January 1, 200n".

> The authorship, timing, and relegation of
> database nomenclature, for example, could become easily out of sync=
> the
> publication record, simply because of this process;

I don't understand.

>  I might take this further, by arguing that the application of the=
> registrar
> and registrator require paper trails, at least digitally, but the p=
> of
> these has no legitimate, simply legalistic, purpose, for the sake o=
> publication. Their existence seems superfluous.

"They" is the paper trails?

> Yet aside from this, Art. 8 of
> the dPC considers (and elsewhere advocates that) names not validate=
d in=20
> this
> database are not valid, whether published or not. This leads to iss=
ues of
> synonymy, for when names ARE registered, they can cause a distrupti=
on in=20
> the
> historical record and their argument of precedence as has been=20
> historically
> recognized by the ICBN and ICZN, such as (close to home, perhaps) f=
> its
> popularity warranting of *Brontosaurus* Marsh, 1879 over *Apatosaur=
> Marsh,
> 1877, or *crassipes* von Meyer, 1857 over *lithographica* von Meyer=
, 1861.

In these two cases, at the very least, we can be reasonably certain t=
hat the=20
most widely used names (*Apatosaurus* and *lithographica*) would be=
converted first. If (which I can hardly imagine) someone with malicio=
intentions would do otherwise, it would cause quite an uproar, and ve=
ry soon=20
someone would petition the CPN to overturn these cases, which it woul=
certainly do.

However, I think we can easily add something along the lines of the=
following to the draft PhyloCode:

Rule: Names that are objectively invalid under the preexisting codes=
(unconserved junior homonyms, unconserved junior objective=20
[ICZN]/nomenclatural [ICBN] synonyms, nomina oblita, names suppressed=
conservation) must not be converted.

Recommendation: Names that are widely considered subjectively invalid=
the preexisting codes (unconserved junior subjective [ICZN]/taxonomic=
synonyms) should not be converted.

What do you think?

> Issues of priority would either have to be rewritten, or some names=
> despite
> their existence, simply ignored or forgotten. I have suggested, per=
> not
> here, that a direct transposition of the current ICZN taxonomic Nom=
> Conservanda and such be adopted, simply to avoid this, and all name=
> currently
> held valid be considered valid by the dPC officiators. This seems t=
o have=20
> been
> met with silence.

Well, nothing is valid if it isn't registered, and nothing can be reg=
that doesn't have a definition. A wholesale conversion of all nomina=
conservanda cannot happen for this reason; we will have to wait for s=
defining any of them. We can't convert names that don't belong to a c=

> Only new names would have to undergo the registration
> process,

All names will be new in the sense that they will receive a valid def=
_for the first time_ on or after "January 1, 200n".

> thereby avoiding the issue of trying to register names out of curre=
> sequence based on some person's personal idealism about what names =
> better
> than others (on that person's OWN considerations).

My proposal does the same -- doesn't it?

> <Well, either you discuss that with her, ideally resulting in a coa=
> publication.>
>  I have discussed this with Dr. Clarke. The results of that discuss=
ion are=20
> not
> public, so I will not air them here. However, the issue of coauthor=
ing in=20
> any
> case is a problematic area I touched on before: most systematists a=
re out=20
> there
> working on their own phylogenies, and many will reject the ideas of=
> based on their personal view points.

In principle this is no problem -- just word the definitions carefull=
enough that they work under all of those phylogenies (respectively=
self-destruct under phylogenies under which their contents would chan=
ge too=20

> There are taxonomic "cliques" (in American
> parlance) as much as there are those who are "lone wolves" (more pa=
> going about their own way and rejecting community efforts). That sa=
> there
> are some who gather large groups to compound ideas and form real co=
> efforts on taxonomy, but these are the exception, not the rule.

My proposal includes giving great support to large community efforts.

> The tendency
> for few specialists in research position dealing in major inter-tax=
> systematics (and thus those more prone to reviewing and revising su=
> taxonomy)
> tends to cause some, such as latter days' Steel or Gray, to revise =
> of
> nomenclature on their own prerogative, or Seeley, often without muc=
h as a=20
> "by
> your leave" and often getting into nomenclature wars. There was in =
fact a=20
> minor
> "war" between Joel Cracraft [at the AMNH] and Storrs Olson [at the=
> Smithsonian]
> involved in "order-based" avian systematics that eventually led to=
> Cracraft in
> rejecting the ranks in favor of the then imminent Sibley and Alqvis=
> whose
> work was also, while lauded, largely rejected by order-based system=
> including Alan Feduccia. If even these leading researchers couldn't=
> on
> the nature of systematics, how should we get them, or me and those =
> disagree
> with me or I with them, into a single paper together?

Most likely we won't get those people to help who think that hardly a=
including themselves, will ever use the PhyloCode. But to get those w=
think it won't go the way of the BioCode should be relatively easy. E=
profits if everyone uses the same names for about the same groups, ev=
en if=20
they use different codes to regulate those names.

> Today, we have a system founded on ranks, but
> surprisingly, a lot of the arguments of precedence and foundation c=
an be=20
> found
> in the dPC, which honors its forbearers' insight. But while rank-ba=
> practice
> in the ICZN and ICBN are deeply entrenched, they are not so innate =
as to=20
> render
> their removal destructive, simply by revising the elements that ref=
er to=20
> ranks,
> and allowing all suprageneric names to be establishable as clades, =
> have
> provisions for definitional addenda to the establishment of names, =
> cause
> more ease I think than many people realize.

I disagree. Mesozoic dinosaur genera behave very well; apart from the=
occasional splitting or lumping of genera that are thought to be=20
sister-groups, they remain stable except for the rare cases that a ne=
discovered species does not get a genus name of its own, and almost a=
contain a single known species. If you look into the plants or frogs,=
example, horror will stare in your face. Genera containing "sections"=
containing subgenera containing 3/4-official "species groups" contain=
ing a=20
dozen species each... It would make some sense to cut off the nomencl=
of some taxa above the genus level, but for others this is the "speci=
group" level, while for yet others the subgenus level would be approp=
There are simply too many different traditions to make such a thing w=

> <My proposal is maybe 10 years -- plus some pressure so that the=
> discussion
> actually happens!>
> ...
> <This may not be the right day to say it, but I don't think any of =
> rank-based codes can be saved... sorry for the pun.>
>  People are human, and whatever our pure-minded motives, names have=
> property
> value, signified by the authorship. They will fight over their prop=
> as
> much as they should, since it in the end signifies their scientific
> acheivements and establishes their history. Many, such as Dobzhansk=
y, or=20
> Lyell,
> have been able to establish their names through works of LOGIC and=
> observation
> without having to resort to scientific names, but I dare say many o=
f us=20
> now are
> tied to our names and find it important to hold on them, since they=
> usually
> indicate we will be working on those areas for decades to come.

This is why I suggest to promote big community efforts.

> In fact, after a decade of de Queiroz and
> Gauthier publishing on the abandonment of ranks,

(In journals that were, at that time, the insider bulletins

> we come back to researchers
> who use the Linnaean system and yet offer definitions,

Who, for example? Has Benton started publishing explicit definitions?

> consider parts of the ICZN perhaps more suggestive than enforcing,

Benton :-)

> To get the [I]CZN to agree, of course, is going
> to be HARD work, and it requires a compounding response in the biol=
> community. This will take DECADES (yah, pessimistically).

Why bother? We don't need it.=20


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