NABA Names Committee

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Sat Apr 1 07:46:37 EST 2000

  Thanks for your clarifying points. This is the way I thought it was. As
Canadians, Mexicans and others know well, US organizations tend to ignore
other cultural groups and come up with some fantastic constructs. That
would not be possible in Europe. Perhaps we Americans can learn to be a
little more cosmopolitan.

At 05:25  1/04/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Message text written by INTERNET:drdn at
>>  Is there one European committee on butterfly names, scientific and/or
>common? From first hand experience, I don't think the European mind works
>that way.
>  If I am wrong and there is such a committee, perhaps we should use it as
>a pattern for a North American names committee.
>If there is such a thing I have never heard of it (and I do not see the
>need for it either).  I presume common names are more governed by country
>useage, there is no way one could establish a European wide common name for
>something given that there are a lot of different languages across Europe. 
>I presume the same holds true for birds.  As for scientific names, I
>suppose the 'old fashioned' method of publication and peer group acceptance
>governs the way this works over here.  I am a member of the British
>Entomolgical and Natural History Society, we have a small building not far
>from me where we have a library, microscopes and some very good UK
>reference collections.  This facility is open to members one or two
>weekends a month.  One of the standing jokes when someone questions the
>reason for a name change is 'someones just done a PhD on this group and had
>to come up with something different for his thesis'.  
>For UK common names for butterflies things are relatively stable, given
>that we have a relatively poor but well studied fauna compared to the US. 
>I like the idea of the 4th of July butterfly counts in the US, I think its
>a great idea, along with science fairs and high school insect collections,
>none of which we have over here.  We don't (as yet) have as many people
>involved in 'butterfly watching' as would seem to be the case in the
>States.  From over here, it seems that the 'problem' is that some people
>(book editors ?) want a 'standard list' of common names for these events
>but it seems many of your common names are 'artificial' in that they are
>'invented' to fit something that never had a common name or to comply with
>the latest taxonomic revisions.  Butterfly watchers should be encoraged to
>use scientific names (gardeners do it all the time without thinking)  
>Possibly your  4th July count card should include the (latest) common name,
>scientific name and a species code number.   The species code would stay
>fixed no matter what changes were applied to that species.  Species splits
>are managed by adding another digit to the code eg species 8110 becomes
>81101 and 81102.  This is the method employed on the UK Biological Record
>Centre (BRC) recording cards.  It is not perfect, and I am not advocating a
>change to numerical codes instead of scientific names, but it is possible
>to keep track of things from past records or surveys with such a method. 
>It does seem that a rather a lot of energy is being expended by some US
>leppers over what is the correct common name for an insect.  I stick by my
>'heavyweight boxing' analogy.

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