Science Gossip Talk

Genus designation?

  • simonddrew by simonddrew

    A cursory browse of Wikipedia shows that the taxonomy for these plants (fig. 65 & 66) is an ongoing field of study. The drawings do not make it easy to guess, and I am no expert! I was tempted to insert Disocactus phyllanthoides, but decided against. What is the established procedure?


  • jules by jules moderator

    Good question. This could be one for our FAQ. In a similar vein, I've come across articles where there are disagreements about taxonomy and it is not obvious which name to go for.


  • ssgiris by ssgiris moderator

    Jules wrote: "disagreements about taxonomy and it is not obvious which name to go for."

    This is a great description of a situation where I apply the hashtag #historicaltaxonomy. In cases such as this, I use the Genus species name found on the page, tagging the same illustration multiple times with each potential name found in the text. For keywords, I would include: historical taxonomy;classification; new species, as well as botany, zoology, etc.

    I would hashtag ASC0000hkz with #historicaltaxonomy. The figures are of plants newly acquired in Britain, and accompany text describing the taxonomic classification discussion.

    Please note, however, that figs 65 and 66 are of Cactus alata. The first callout for figure 65 is on the previous page, embedded in text describing Cactus alata, from the Organ Mountains, Rio Janeiro (sic). A second callout for fig 65 and the callout for fig. 66 are embedded in text on this page describing the flowers and leaves of the same plant (Cactus alata).

    The callout for fig 67 is embedded in the text for Dioscorea cinnamonmifolia, common name yam. Text says this is a male plant, and discussion is of monoecious (separate plants bear either male or female flowers) and dioecious (same plant bears flowers of both sexes).




    #historicaltaxonomy could be accurately used for almost every genus/species illustrated, since these were the taxonomic names used in these historic publications. What I have been doing is entering the Historic name followed by the Current name in parenthesis. I put both names in the index words. This obviates the necessity of having multiple species entries for the same figure (or part of the figure).

    Current names can be gotten from many good sources -- I have a tab open to Wiki and another to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System ( Avibase is great for birds! You can develop your own favorites, if you are familiar with other sources.

    I realize that there may be as many current names as there are current taxonomists, especially in those groups that are either widely or sparsely studied (I got my graduate training in systematics -- and taxonomy, and recently spent an interesting 2 years working with Gould's birds.) Pick the name you are comfortable with and let the researchers worry about synonymies..

    And most of all, you may have to actually Read the article you are working with. The author is usually pretty good at describing what s/he is writing about. You may have to scroll through several pages, but I learn a lot that way.