[Fwd: [SoWestLep] Common Names: status report]

paul opler paulevi at webaccess.net
Tue May 13 10:12:59 EDT 2003

The major difference, of course, is that common names have absolutely no 
standing according to taxonomic procedures and rule, whereas Latinized name 
do have such standing.  Common names may be more stable, but Latin name 
usage reflects our often changing concepts about the taxal standing of 
various organisms and the synonymy of names.

In addition, Latin names have international standing, whereas as common 
names do not.  A good example is the Mourning Cloak, a name unrecognizable 
in England where the same species is the Camberwell Beauty or in Germany 
where it is Trauermantel, etc., etc.



At 08:54 AM 5/12/2003 -0800, Stanley A. Gorodenski wrote:

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>From: Ken E Davenport <flutterflies at juno.com>
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>Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 00:00:16 -0700
>Subject: [SoWestLep] Common Names: status report
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>This note is primarily for Southwest Leps but will be sent to TILS leps
>talk as well.  I felt it a good idea to update many individuals on
>current status of common names.  It is apparent in talking to many
>individuals that many of us are not aware of how matters have changed in
>recent years.
>    First of all, common names have been used all along.  Common names
>have long been used in butterfly books and field guides.  However, they
>were not universally accepted as many scientists have believed common
>names unnecessary.  Many believed only scientific names should be used.
>Scientific articles and papers used only scientific names.  Others prefer
>the use of common names, an argument given being that use of scientific
>names are too difficult, especially for beginners.
>    In recent years, common names have been gaining much more acceptance.
>A multitude of new books, both national and regional have used them.  It
>has become obvious that many of our butterflies have had more than one,
>sometimes several different common names.  The argument was used that
>scientific names were preferable because they were "stable" and remained
>the same based on the rules of scientic nomenclature.
>    However, the scientific names have recently been in flux with numerous
>revisions and questions of status.  Many argued that common names were
>becoming more stable than scientific names.  In 1992, The Common Names of
>North American Butterflies edited by Jacqueline Miller with a foreword by
>Paul Opler appeared.  This reference listed what common names were used
>for a scientific names list.  This reference listed alternative common
>names and which ones were recommended for primary use by several
>lepidopterists who worked on this project.
>    With the coming of the NABA, Jeffrey Glassberg and the NABA names
>committee decided to choose what common names would be used for the NABA.
>  Their hope was to standardize names and gain more acceptance for common
>names.  The viewpoint here was that newcomers find scientific names too
>difficult and common names encourage newcomers to the world of
>butterfliers.  Glassberg succeeded in gaining more acceptance for common
>names, but not all common names chosen by that organization have been
>accepted by others outside the NABA (example: Red-Spotted Admiral has not
>gone over too well).  Many recent authors have used NABA common names in
>their books: Paul Opler, Jim Brock/Kenn  Kaufman, Robert Pyle ...with
>some exceptions.  One limitation of the NABA list of common names is that
>fewer species are recognized by that organization than the scientific
>community recognizes.  Hence, other common names need to be used.
>    The International Lepidoptera Survey agrees with the need for common
>names and many of the names chosen (see common names list at their web
>site) are the same as the NABA list.  The important consideration is what
>names are actually used.  For the most part, most NABA names were well
>chosen...and consistant with names used in previous books.  Some names
>were changed (example: Heliopetes ericetorum is now Northern White
>Skipper instead of Large White Skipper).
>    A major difference in the common names list between the two
>organizations is the issue of recognizing subspecies and the use of
>common names for subspecies.  NABA as a whole recognizes few subspecies
>and rarely uses a common name for them.  The scientific community as a
>whole recognizes subspecies as important (though perhaps not from a
>biological standpoint).  Endangered species are usually subspecies and
>the species as a whole is not endangered.  Common names for endangered or
>threatened species may help gain support from governmental authorities
>and others to add butterflies to endangered or threatened status.  Many
>subspecies are well differentiated and easily recognized by color,
>pattern and field marks.  Others are weakly differentiated.  We as
>individuals can choose what if any subspecies common names we want to
>    Here are some butterflies in the Southwestern U. S. where status is
>being questioned are have alternative names in our region:
>(1) Desert Black Swallowtail or Desert Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes
>coloro).  It may very well be that this butterfly warrants full species
>status.  This butterfly is usually a very yellow butterfly, not black
>like P. polyxenes asterius (except black form "clarki.")
>The so-called blend zone in SE Arizona does not really exist.
>Populations of a similar yellow desert swallowtail occur in southern
>Texas within the range of black "asterius."have been recently brought to
>our attention.  The DNA is the same (but so are DNA of Pale and Western
>Tiger Swallowtails which we know are distinct species).
>(2) Variable Checkerspot is name used based on concept of Euphydryas
>chalcedona, anicia, colon, bernadetta, wheeleri all being conspecific.
>Current researchers currently feel this view is unlikely.  Use of names
>like Chalcedon, Anicia and Colon Checkerspots help us to know exactly
>what butterfly is being discussed.
>(3).  Veined White (Pieris napi).  Recent papers strongly suggest P. napi
>is not in North America.  Recent publications indicate the Margined White
>(Pieris marginalis) is in the Southwest.  But it is even more complex:
>unnoticed is work that suggests there are two species in California.
>Populations along the Coast Ranges known as subspecies "venosa" (Large
>Veined White) appear to be distinct from Sierran "castoria" or
>microstriata"(=Reakirt's White, Castoria White or Small Veined White).
>These differences are readily observable through binoculars.
>(4)  Arizona Purple or Arizona Red-Spotted Purple (Limenitis
>arthemis/astyanax arizonensis or L. arizonensis).  DNA work and lack of
>blend zone suggest Arizona Purples differ from Red-Spotted Purples more
>than Red-Spotted Purples differ from White Admirals.  Is "arizonensis" a
>full species?  Look for a scientific paper on this in the near future.
>    In conclusion, both the NABA and the scientific community are now
>embracing the use of both common and scientific names (use of both names
>are recommended on TILS leps talk) because of differing views and
>proficiency in using such names.  Look for continued use of common names
>in future books.  Look for the use of alternative names in future species
>accounts in future books.  Look for common names to appear more
>frequently even in scientific papers.  Scott and Opler have already used
>Common names are here to stay...and they are now accepted by most in the
>scientific community...though some continue to question the need for
>    Will we all ever agree on names?  Do humans ever agree on any issue?
>Best Wishes, Ken Davenport
>flutterflies at juno.com or kdavenport at tils-ttr.org
>For more information: http://www.tils-ttr.org
>TILS Motto: "We can not protect that which we do not know" © 1999
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