Why do scientific names change? Kiokio and the other Blechnum ferns as a case study

Do scientific names change too often? I think they sometimes do.

I explore this question in this Te Papa blog post: Why do scientific names change?

I'm keen to hear what you think. Please leave a comment at the bottom of the Te Papa blog post. How much taxonomic change do you like ?

The Blechnum ferns make an interesting case study in this respect. One approach sees Doodia move into Blechnum; the other approach keeps Doodia but splits Blechnum into many genera.

For instance, Blechnum fluviatile or Cranfillia fluviatilis? Blechnum filiforme, or Icarus filiformis?

Posted by leonperrie leonperrie, September 01, 2018 09:41

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Kiwakiwa Cranfillia fluviatilis

Observer

leonperrie

Date

September 1, 2018 01:39 PM NZST

Description

Blechnum fluviatile.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Thread Fern Blechnum filiforme

Observer

leonperrie

Date

September 1, 2018 03:33 PM NZST

Comments

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Thx Leon

Clarifies the situation for those less conversant with fine art of taxonomy and how it can be applied for better or worse. I am happy to follow the NZ Flora approach to the latest revamp of the fern taxonomy.

Regards

Posted by caqalai about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Disclaimer:
I don't know a thing about taxonomy and have only recently come across it when I joined NW so these comments are from the uninformed :)

I can relate to the charts as they remind me of whakapapa - Maori genealogy - and I get from your article that that is basically what it is about - who is related to who and who are the common tupuna - ancestors. So to me that means that Doodia should stay close to its relations and not go and live with another hapu (larger family grouping) unless those closey related and even hybridise move to the same hapu.

From a traditional Maori world view if different whanau (familys) were going to split away from their current hapu (larger whanau grouping) to form another hapu, the genealogy lines needed to be strong and all of the whanau wanting to create another hapu had to have strong whakapapa ties to the tupuna - ancestor - of the new hapu name. (Ngati means "descendant of" so you could not be a part of Ngati XYZ if you did not have a direct blood connection to the person XYZ).

Therefore, to me, there should be strong connections to create genra or move genra but not to create small groupings. I like your stance of look for the solution that entails the least amount of change and totally support that - I mean I can not even name 2 fern genra - but if there is a strong connection reason to do it, and not because of self serving interests - then it should be done.

Re read the disclaimer at the top of this comment :)

Posted by tangatawhenua about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hello Leon,
I notice that the greater number of changes are Generic rather than specific. It is the specific name which identifies the plant so within my group of botany associates there is frequently little use of generic names being used in the field. It is a standing joke for many plant enthusiasts including within Bot Soc ie "What are we going to call it this week? Oh just wait a couple of weeks and it will be back to its old name." While it is important to recognize newly discovered plant associations, I think there is far too many name changes being made, and after a few months the most accepted authority rescinds the new nomenclature because none of the Botanical so-called pundits agree with the changes. If ALL respected authorities agree to accept the changes then lets change. Currently this is not happening, one authority accepting, the next rejecting, etc. Yes we should all recognize associations and we can acknowledge these very well without name changing at generic level, simply by adding it to the right sub-family aggregate grouping. That way nobody is being handed a hundred new names a year to learn, but there is still recognition of work done on plant associations. There will be exceptions of course, which can be fully justified, especially related to names which take historic precedence over others in current use.
If modern botanists want to make a name for themselves, then why not work on the 100's of un-named NZ species, some of which have been waiting in the wings for a name for decades.

Posted by memopob about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Great thought provoking stuff thanks Leon - we've added it here https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nzsciencelearn/classification/ and also popped a link at the bottom of these 2 articles - https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/1104-classifying-and-identifying-ferns and https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/1438-classification-system - many thanks!

Posted by sciencelearninghub about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks @caqalai .

Posted by leonperrie about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks @tangatawhenua. Interesting parallels.

Posted by leonperrie about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hi @memopob ,
Thanks for your comments. I agree about the importance of working on un-named species, and I personally hope to give that more emphasis in the future, although it may be more in the Pacific Islands than New Zealand. Also, yes, we do not have a good system in NZ for reviewing taxonomic changes - the Australians seem to do it much better with their Australian Plant Census, which involves representatives from each of the state herbarium, and they take a vote if need be. I wonder if this got some lessons for us.

Posted by leonperrie about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Kia ora @sciencelearninghub . I'm glad you found it useful! Thanks.

Posted by leonperrie about 2 years ago (Flag)

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