Geoff Read g.read at niwa.cri.nz
Tue Jun 27 22:27:10 EST 2000

Fred Pleijel:

> Think about it: does it have to do with nature?

I am not sure that taxonomy itself, especially much of the existing body of 
polychaete taxonomy, has much to do with nature in the sense of living 
animals, reproducing, and interacting with their environment. Just thought 
I'd mention that for perspective.  Fred may well concur - see p629 iii of 
Pleijel & Rouse LITU paper - but I don't agree that taxonomists are 'forced' 
to describe organisms as new species - some  just do it out of habit without 
much thought at all. If they mostly had decided "a few dead specimens" 
DID NOT represent a new species we all might be better off today.     

> "Flexuosus (Ophiodromus, Hesionidae) Sars,
> 1862". At subsequent mentions only a single name is used, e.g.,
> "Flexuosus", or followed with an abbreviation of a more inclusive taxon,
> e.g., "Flexuosus (O.)"; whatever is considered necessary for clarity."

Or you could write the binominal forwards instead of awkwardly backwards 
and have Ophiodromus flexuosus back again. Would that really be so bad 
a thing?

One thing I notice with uninominals is that there is no longer that old 
fallback, the 'sp' of the genus. Fred in the Heteropodarke paper had 
something which he didn't want to name formally, but was seemingly forced 
to anyway, there being infinite homonyms of 'sp' (not that Fred would use 
that anymore). Most benthic ecology papers I see have an awful lot of 'sp' 
names in them.  

A minor thing - I am not of the view that italicising of binominals ever had 
any great significance. It's a bit of an anachronism really, or a habit as 
Fred calls it. I'm not sure why he extends it to all his names.   

> The issue is
> really that names for taxa shouldn't change all the time.

How true. But they will change under the uninominalists too, perhaps more 
so, as each presents a new classification on new characters, including 
molecular versus morphological, and invents new names for their groups.  

The genus  is a very convenient way of talking about a member of  a set of 
entities, and a binominal has a certain charm and power perhaps related to 
the fact that we all have one (although not all Reads or Peijels belong to the 
same 'clade' of humanity)!  I'm looking forward to reading the first 
ecological paper written by a uninominalist to see how understandable the  
application of the system will be outside  of  taxonomy and how the 
terminology can be developed to cope.  Needless to say I don't plan to 
pioneer the field.    

  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.cri.nz>

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