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The nomenclatural status of Hysaplesia, Hylaplesia, Dendrobates and related nomina (Amphibia, Anura), with general comments on zoological nomenclature and its governance, as well as on taxonomic databases and websites



Dozens of publications, mostly in the last 45 years, have been devoted to nomenclatural problems concerning the status of the zoological nomina Hysaplesia, Hylaplesia, Dendrobates and related nomina. The Commission finally voted on this case in 2009, but this vote shows a misunderstanding of several of the problems at stake, as it contains a double and contradictory decision: the change in the type species of Hysaplesia and its suppression, although one only of these two acts would have been necessary and sufficient to solve this case, whereas taking them both together has other unforeseen and negative nomenclatural consequences. A final comprehensive solution to these nomenclatural problems is presented here, which does not require any more action from the Commission. However, the fact that the Commission, as well as the whole international community, have proved to be unable to understand fully the nomenclatural problems at stake and to solve them truthfully, while ignoring deliberately some contributions to the discussion, calls attention. This case suggests that there is a strong risk that nomenclature might become a domain where intellectual fairness and competence are secondary and where problems are ‘solved’ through the medieval ‘Principle of Authority’, through relying on the ‘opinions’ of a few persons, committees or websites rather than on rational discussions based on a knowledge of taxonomic publications and an understanding of the Code. This course would result in dragging zoological nomenclature so to say outside the field of science and contribute to weakening still more a domain, taxonomy, which is already facing major problems, at the time of the crisis of biodiversity. Additional problems concerning taxonomic databases and websites are pointed out, and suggestions are offered in this respect, including the distinction between the concepts of ‘nomenclatural status’ and ‘taxonomic status’ of nomina.


Taxonomy; nomenclature; Code; Commission; nomen novum; incorrect spelling; Plenary Powers; Principle of Authority; databases; websites; nomenclatural status of nomen; taxonomic status of nomen

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ISSN 1179-7649 (print);   ISSN 1179-7657 (online)

Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand