Topic 3: (Fauna Europaea and gender agreement) GUIDs for Taxon Names and Taxon Concepts

Yde de Jong yjong at SCIENCE.UVA.NL
Mon Nov 7 15:22:52 CET 2005

Dear Donald,

>Just catching up.  There is one small practical 
>point I'd like to understand about Fauna 
>Europaea.  You wrote the following:
>>How is Fauna Europaea organised?
>>- Basically we have a list of 'naked' taxon 
>>names (from the infraspecific level to Kingdom) 
>>including full authorship for at least the 
>>generic and (infra)specific levels. All those 
>>taxon names (read: name elements) have unique 
>>- All epithets are linked to their original 
>>genus, so original combinations can be 
>>reconstructed. This is nearly, but not 
>>completely similar to basionyms in botany 
>>because gender unequivalencies are not 
>>necessarily corrected.
>>- Species names are created by recursively 
>>linking species-group names to genus-group 
>>names. Genus names are parents of specific 
>>epithets, and specific epithets are parents of 
>>infraspecific epithets.
>>- Subjective synonyms are specific epithets 
>>recursively linked as childs to 'accepted' 
>>specific epithets. For objective synonymy genus 
>>names synonyms are recursively linked as childs 
>>to 'accepted' genus names.
>>- Conclusion: Names (=naked name 
>>element/author/year plus original genus for 
>>epithets) are for eternity. Species names (so 
>>your taxon names) are temporary concepts (if 
>>they are not basionyms) which don't have 
>>identifiers and which are not kept in the 
>>database after taxonomic changes else then by 
>>version control.
>>- However, an unique species name id can be 
>>easily artificially created by merging both 
>>generic and epithet id's (a trick we also use 
>>for Species2000).
>- Taxon concepts are not explicitly covered.
>Can you explain a little more about how you 
>handle epithet agreement ("gender 
>unequivalencies") in this system?  I realise 
>this is tangential from the main GUID 
>discussion, but it does seem to be a 
>complication to the task of treating the epithet 
>as the primary unit.

We asked our experts to provide the original 
genera of all included epithets. We had a hard 
time in the beginning to convince especially the 
Coleoptera and Diptera experts for the need of 
this additional details, because it is not part 
of their standard practice to keep this kind of 

For synonyms there are hardly gender 
unequivalencies, because for the epithets mainly 
the original spellings are included which (by 
definition) follow the gender of the original 

For accepted species names we don't keep the 
original spellings of epithets when the endings 
of epithets shift because of combinations with 
counter-gendered genus names.

So we can have the situation:
Bruchela pygmaea Gyllenhal 1833 [Original genus Urodon]
Very likely the real original combination has been:
Urodon pygmaus Gyllenhal 1833, but we don't keep 'pygmaus' as gender variant.

For Fauna Europaea this is not a principal 
(taxonomic) issue, only a technical issue in how 
to implement fuzzy search facilities (e.g. by 
trunking all taxon name endings and replace them 
by wild cards) to lead users to the relevant 
currently accepted species name. However, 
personally I would prefer to include all original 
spellings of epithets in Fauna Europaea the near 


An interesting additional story on the subject of gender endings:
Years ago most Lepidopterist's gave up the effort 
of trying to harmonize the genders of genus names 
and adjectives. It was expected during the last 
years that at some moment the ICZN would accept 
this practise. Recently the European Society of 
Lepidopterist did accept this practice, however, 
the ICZN did not. Because the ICZN was our holy 
book in Fauna Europaea and the zoological code 
commission much represented within our committees 
the Lepidopterist's were forced strictly to 
follow the code and to adapt their data as such. 
Due to this fact now the absurd situation exists 
that the Fauna Europaea data are incongruent with 
Lepidoptera data in other resources with respect 
to adjectives endings. Therefore within the next 
version of Fauna Europaea we will (explicitly) 
include two variant gender spellings of 
Lepidoptera species.


Next week I will meet the ZooBank people in 
London and ask about their opinion on keeping 
orthographic variants for genus names (e.g. 
shifts from 'Dasia' to 'Dasya'), adjectives 
(gender endings) and author names ('Müller' and 

Kind regards,

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the tdwg-tag mailing list