GUIDs for Taxon Names and Taxon Concepts

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Thu Nov 10 20:27:29 CET 2005

Hi Roger,

> Rich - yes. I think you sum up the difference between new combinations
> in ICZN and ICBN well. But... just because the ICZN does not consider
> the usage of a name in a different genus as a nomenclatural act does not
> stop us creating a data object (TaxonName object) to represent what that
> name looks like in the new genus - perhaps with its new ending and
> possibly different author string (ICZN Recommendation 51G).

I agree that nothing is stopping us, but I forsee headaches down the road as
a result of doing so.  In your next message, you wrote:

"1. We have two kinds of GUID (one for TaxonNames and one for

>>>From this I interpret that TaxonName GUIDs are different with TaxonConcept
GUIDs -- is that correct?  If so, the problem is that a botanist would
assign a new TaxonName GUID to a new combination, and a zoologist would
assign a TaxonConcept GUID to the same entity, because "genus combination"
is a property of a name in botany, and a properyy of a usage (~concept) in

Yes, you could certainly force-treat zoological names as though they were
botanical names (treating new combinations as "new names"), just as you
could easily force-treat botanical names as though they were zoological
names (assigning TaxonName GUIDs only to basionyms, and representing new
combincations via Usage/TaxonConcept GUIDs).  I just believe that we will
come to regret it if we leave the distinction "fuzzy".

My point has always been, and continues to be, that *IF* you have separate
"kinds of GUID" for TaxonNames and TaxonConcepts, the line between the two
should be unambigious (and ideally be consistent for both botany and
zoology).  After thinking about it some more, in the context of what has
been written on this thread, I find myself coming back to that first "IF".
Given that there seems to be a need and a desire to leave the definition of
a "name unit" (to which a GUID is assigned) loose and flexible, then perhaps
it would be premature to establish a GUID system for Name-Objects at all.
Instead, I think we can both simplify *and* disambiguate taxonomic objects
if there is only *ONE* GUID system -- which represents a Name-Usage

In the case of datasets consisting of only namestrings, with no specific
implied concept objects, the names can be interpreted as "NameString SEC
Nobody" (=Nominal TaxonConcept in TCS). Nomenclators could use whichever
subset of these Name-usage GUIDs that they wish to refer to their own
version of a name-object. For example, ZooBank can concern itself only with
those GUIDs attached to original basionym usage instances, and IPNI can
manage both basionyms usage instances and new-combination usage instances.
ConceptBank could expand the scope of GUIDs to all those usage instances
that represent defined concepts. Name indexers could use the broadest set of
GUIDs (effectively all name-usage instances).

So, in summary, my feeling is that if we are to think of "two kinds of GUID"
for taxon objects, then we need an unambiguous (and cross-Code) distinction
between the two.  If such a distinction is too cumbersome to draw (as it
seems to be, based on the current thread), then we should only go with one
kind of GUID -- and by default it should be the one kind that is most
flexible (=usage instance).



> Is there a parallel with autonyms under ICBN? People use autonyms so
> should they have a GUID? But they are automatically created and mean
> different things in different circumstances.

"Autonyms" is the term that botanists use; "Nominotypical Names" is the term
zoologists use.  I'm pretty sure they mean the same thing (or something very
similar).  They add a layer of complexity no matter whether you represent a
name as a botanical-style unit, or a zoological-style unit.

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