Submitted to: Taxon
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2007
Publication Date: March 12, 2007
Citation: Mcneil, J., Redhead, S., Wiersema, J.H. 2007. Guidelines for proposals to conserve or reject names. Taxon. 56:249-252.
Interpretive Summary: Accurate scientific names of plants are essential for communication about them and are especially important for international exchange of agricultural, horticultural and forest plants. In order to ensure that the scientific names of plants remain stable, a set of rules has been developed about how scientific names should be applied. This set of rules allows names that are well known to stay the same or be conserved, even though they should be changed according to the rules. In order to conserve a scientific name, one must write and publish a proposal to do this according to the guidelines in this article. These guidelines will be used by botanists worldwide to determine the accurate scientific names of plants.
The scientific journal Taxon is the medium for the publication of proposals to conserve or reject scientific names of plants based on the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). The first formal guidelines for the preparation of such proposals appeared in 1994; these were updated in 2003. Following a new edition of the ICBN, additional guidelines are presented. The prime criterion for conservation and rejection of names is the avoidance of “disadvantageous nomenclatural change”. Botanists should, therefore, explore the possibility of conservation or rejection of names before introducing any such nomenclatural change. Almost all disadvantageous name changes arising from nomenclatural reasons can now be avoided using the six provisions for conservation and rejection of names explained in this article. The first three are: (1) conservation of a name of a family, genus or species over all homonyms and homotypic synonyms and those heterotypic synonyms specifically listed as rejected; (2) conservation of a name of a genus or species with a different type from that designated by the author or determined by application of the ICBN, not applicable to names of families; and (3) outright rejection of a name at any rank and of any name of which it is the basionym, to be included on the list of rejected names. The ones dealing with particular situations are: (4) conservation of a name of a family, currently only of bryophytes or spermatophytes, not only over all homonyms and homotypic synonyms, but also over all heterotypic synonyms that are not themselves conserved; (5) conservation of a name with a particular spelling; or (6) conservation of a name with a particular gender. All proposals for conservation or rejection must be accompanied by a detailed statement of the cases both for and against its conservation/rejection.