Name Stability

Kondla, Norbert FOR:EX Norbert.Kondla at
Thu Sep 21 12:56:37 EDT 2000

As much as I enjoy the intellectual and technical debates about the
evolutionary relationships between organisms and the conventions that we
chose to use for applying names; there is an irreverent but perhaps
realistic perspective to share on this topic:
- names of organisms will become stable when pigs fly -- but I hasten to add
that with the advent of genetic engineering this could happen sooner rather
than later and besides, who is to say that such an event could not
eventually evolve without human design
- names of organisms will become stable when a supreme being/omnipotent
deity forces us to accept her/his/its view of the right name and right
- names of organisms may become stable in some small areas of the planet by
decree of a dictator who has seized social power through military force
- names will become stable when all human beings stop intellectual process
and cease to be curious about the environment we exist in.
- stability is a construct of the human mind which is extremely important to
some people and totally unimportant to other people.
And homing in on the alleged butterfly name changes that perplex many
people, and perplexed me for a while as well; many of these changes are
really not changes at all -- they are simply the informed opinions of the
people who use a particular name in a book or journal article.  Other
equally informed and intelligent people will share (publish) different
opinions.  For example, some people have advanced the argument that E.
anicia and E. chalcedona are conspecific and people who read something that
applies this taxonomic opinion may be deceived into thinking that the
species name anicia has "changed" to chalcedona.  I do not buy the
conspecific interpretation so for me there has been absolutely no name
change.  Both names are valid under the code of conventions that biologists
use for nomenclature; so neither is any more right or wrong from a
nomenclatural perspective and it becomes a matter of deciding which
taxonomic rank one wishes to use.  

Norbert Kondla  P.Biol., RPBio.
Forest Ecosystem Specialist, Ministry of Environment
845 Columbia Avenue, Castlegar, British Columbia V1N 1H3
Phone 250-365-8610
Mailto:Norbert.Kondla at

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