[leps-talk] Re: A reply on common names

Barb Beck barb at birdnut.obtuse.com
Tue Apr 2 02:36:30 EST 2002

Jim,  You are missing the point.

Yes there are a lot of common names for some species. But one standardized
name needs to be chosen. I hope all of those will be included in the
synonyms list.  I also know that both you and your research advisor highly
disapprove of common names and see no use for them.    You rightly use only
scientific names.  But there is a bigger world out there and there are
Naturalists and people involved with conservation that would like a stable
list of reasonable common names.   What the heqq is your problem with that.
It is no threat to you!!

We have seen how a list of accepted common names for birds in NA has greatly
helped things with birders.   It helps greatly in getting amateur
involvement and getting people to care about birds.

Entomologists whine and complain about the amount of research dollars that
go into bird studies.  How many funded research projects are there in Alaska
concerning birds and how many concerning butterflies.  The big difference is
that there are a lot more people out there that give a damn about birds.
And these many of these people who are fools in your eyes  use common names.
They find the learning of the birds made a little easier by common names,
good field guides with good field marks and the research that has gone into
bird identification.  And guess what,  a bunch of people like that even poor
fools using common names CAN have an effect on policy and conservation.

People are making fun of ssp names.  But you know as well as I that the
taxonomy is not worked out on many of these groups.  Good common names are
needed for field identifiable forms because  there are quite probably some
very  good species buried in some of the lumped species we have now.  In
fact the NABA even admits that the Northwestern Fritillary (S. hesperis
beani and (lais or whatever) is a good species but because they practice
"conservative" taxnonmy (whatever that is) do not want it split - result all
the data on this species is lumped with Atlantis a species whose range
overlaps the Northwestern considerable.

Just because you do not need common names do not make fun of and hinder
those that do.  Nobody says you are going to have to use them.  They will
not replace scientific names and should not replace scientific names and
rest assured that there is no Boogie Man hiding under your bed.  Naturalists
just want a common language over North America to refer to their butterflies
just as we have for our birds.  They want to be able to access guides
easily.  The fact that Monarch is used in several places in Canada to refer
to one species or another of Swallowtail does not rule it out as a good
common name.  I bet more people in Canada have heard of the Monarch (Danaus
plexxipus) and use the term Monarch for that butterfly than use for the
swallowtail you referred to.  They see it on TV and read about it in kids

Your example with the Cougar is foolish because there are not the number of
species of mammals with multiple common names to deal with.  Most
naturalists realize what people are talking about and often what ssp they
are talking about by the region of the country they are in.  The problem
with the birds and butterflies is much more complex because of the numbers

The bottom line is you have no need for common names, you do not use common
names, and yet you want to make fun of those of us who see a need for them
and use them.

Barb Beck
-----Original Message-----
From: James Kruse [mailto:fnjjk1 at uaf.edu]
Sent: April 1, 2002 4:39 PM
To: TILS-leps-talk at yahoogroups.com; leps-l at lists.yale.edu
Subject: [leps-talk] Re: A reply on common names

on 4/1/02 1:24 PM, Michael Gochfeld at gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU wrote:

> I seriously question the wisdom of calling P.c. arcticus a Monarch, even
> Alaska.
Ron previously wrote:
>> Monarch for Pterourus canadensis arcticus in Alaska gets a lot of votes.
>> The regional use of common names can not be ignored or legislated out of
>> existence. That aspect will have to be dealt with eventually by all who
>> want globalization of common names.

It is still winter here, so....

But Mike, a common name _is_ a "common" name, using the definition of
common, which thus should be inclusive of regional variants. Wisdom? Tell
me, who is wise enough to choose the 'only' correct name from this list:

Mountain lion
(there are probably more, but you get it)

You naturally tend to pick the one that is in use where you grew up. As a
former Wisconsinite I might seriously question the use of "mountain lion"
where they were/are found in Wisconsin, where no mountains (by most
definitions) are found; or the usage of "panther" when it is already used in
reference to another species, much like "monarch" is in this case. Why can't
all names be listed? Are some of these "invalid" because the wisdom of their
usage is questioned? They are not scientific names after all, but I would
expect that more localized species may have only one, if any at all.

So Ron, give us a "common names LIST".


James J. Kruse, Ph.D.
Curator of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK, USA 99775-6960
tel 907.474.5579
fax 907.474.1987

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