Alternate preliminary design document for taxon names and concepts

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This page assumes that informal names (n. sp. 1) are eligible to be protonyms. This has not been settled. An alternate page with the opposite treatment is also available.


Species File Software deals with taxon names and concepts in three contexts:

  • Nomenclatural, the names as specified by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, including those names classified as "not available" and informal names not subject to the Code. It is useful to distinguish different kinds of names. ◦Uninomial, the name treated as a single word for a taxon at a particular rank. For example, "new species 3" is a uninomial even though it contains three words.
    • Multinomial, the formal name for a taxon at the rank of genus or lower, which begins with a genus name and may contain from one to five uninomials. For convenience in managing the data, Species File Software treats a genus name as a multinomial because it may have been a subgenus at some time in its history.
    • Protonym, the uninomial that provides the author and year cited with a name. A different author and year may be used for some cases. Protonyms may be unavailable names or informal usages even though the author did not intend to create a scientific name. Emendations and misapplied names do not create new protonyms.
  • Conceptual, the concepts as defined by various references. This is an attempt to represent the concept as defined by the Taxonomic Databases Working Group. But to be implemented in Species File Software, there must be a clear definition of what events cause changes in species concepts. Common or vernacular names could also be called concepts, but they are not relevant here.
  • Data management, the names as used in database tables to facilitate management of information about names and concepts. "Datanym" is used here to mean the names in separate rows in tblTaxa in species files.

Life Science Identifers (LSIDs) have not yet been implemented in Species File Software. LSIDs are in the design stage for protonyms, multinomials and concepts. It is probably not useful to provide LSIDs for datanyms.

A table will illustrate the relationships among these names and concepts. This is a subset of possible events selected to illustrate the differences. Blank cells in the following table mean no change affecting the name or concept.

Event Nomenclature Concept Datanym
Protonym Multinomial
A new species is described and published. New New New New
A species name is misapplied     Different, may match previously existing concept New
A species name is misspelled   New   New
A new species is described using a junior primary homonym New New New New
A replacement name is provided for a junior homonym New New   New
A revised description is given for a species     New  
A new species is described without qualifying under the rules of nomenclature  New New New New
A previously known concept is given a formal description New New   New
An incorrectly formed name receives a required emendation   New   New
A name receives an unjustified emendation   New   New
A species is transferred to a different genus.  The spelling may change to match the gender of the genus.   New Concepts for the two genera change, but not the concept for the species.  
A new subspecies is described separating what was an undivided species. One new for the new subspecies Two new for the two subspecies Two new for the two subspecies Previous datanym becomes the datanym of the nominotypical subspecies.  (This preserves relationships with other tables.)  Two new datanyms are created.
A new subspecies is described from an area outside the range of what was an undivided species. One new for the new subspecies Two new for the two subspecies Old concept moves to the nominotypical subspecies, one new for the other subspecies, one new for the species. Previous datanym becomes the datanym of the nominotypical subspecies.  Two new datanyms are created.
A species is demoted to a subspecies in a species previously without subspecies.   Two new for the two subspecies One new concept applies to the resulting species, two old concepts apply to the subspecies. Previous datanym becomes the datanym of the nominotypical subspecies.  The other subspecies retains its datanym.  A new datanym is created for the species.
A subspecies is made a synonym of the only other subspecies.     Concepts for the two subspecies are discontinued.  
A subspecies is separated as a species different from the only other subspecies.   One new, two old discontinued Concept for the previous species is discontinued. Datanym for the species is no longer used.  Datanym for the nominotypical subspecies becomes the datanym for the species.  Datanym for the other subspecies remains.
A subspecies is separated as a species different from the other two subspecies.   One new Concept for the old species is replaced by a new one.  Concept for the subspecies separated remains unchanged. Datanym for the old subspecies becomes the datanym for the new species.
A species group is described Not applicable Not applicable New New
A form is descibed while forms were still permitted by the Code New New New New
A form is described after forms were prohibited by the code  New New New New
A form described when permitted is raised to subspecies rank.   New    
A form described when not permitted is raised to subspecies rank. New    
A nomen dubium species is described. New New Not applicable New
A nomen nudum is described and cannot be identified. New New Not applicable New
A nomen nudum species is described and can be identified. New New New if not an existing concept New
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