The Node Pointing System

Geoff Read at
Wed Oct 25 16:55:17 EST 2000

Greg Rouse:
> As for chaos and lack of stability, in my opinion phylogenetic taxonomy 
> will be more stable and have less chaos than the present Linnean 
> taxonomic nightmare we have to endure. 

Ah, go on! Is it that bad, really? Fatally flawed maybe (:-)), but only as 
nightmarish as we let it become. One of the things needed is much better 
public databasing of the names in existence. Essential whether the 
Phylocode takes off or not. In this regard the botanists seem to be a few 
steps ahead with their acknowledgement of basionyms (first names), and 
really good name databases FREE online (Index Nominum Genericorum, 
Kew taxonomic record). It's holding us back that 'not for profit' BIOSIS fees 
for most of us make  interrogating Zoo Rec and Biological abstracts online 
so costly as to be impractical.  

> Phylogenetic Nomenclature is 
> more rigorous, more explicit and less ambiguous that the current system. 
> It will make people think about what they are doing when they name taxa ...

Hmm, I agree people have been careless of  the bigger picture when they 
have created new genera, but I'm not sure Phylocode names will be  
fundamentally more stable as knowledge improves and earlier analyses 
become passé.  More importantly, unfortunately species names, the 
CRUNCH problem, were not resolved by the proposed Phylocode. There 
are numerous proposals made in that Cantino* paper, none of which 
particularly stand out. The Taxacom discussions Greg mentioned haven't 
delved into this, unless I've missed it somewhere in the deluge of prolixity.    
*Cantino, P. D., H. N. Bryant, K. de Queiroz, M. J. Donoghue, T. Eriksson, D. M. 
Hillis, & M. S. Y. Lee. 1999. Species Names in Phylogenetic Nomenclature. — 
Systematic Biology 48(4):790-807.

  Geoff Read < at>

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