BARRIE, FRED R. Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166. - Type-basis nomenclature: a precise and simple system of naming taxa.
The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is a type-basis code.
The application of names of taxa at the rank of family and below is
determined by nomenclatural types. A nomenclatural type is that
element (specimen or illustration) to which the name of a taxon is
permanently attached. The type method, first proposed over a century
ago and refined since then, is a technique for affixing a label --a
name-- to a taxon. Gradually, and with no small amount of controversy,
it replaced the old method of defining a name by identifying it with a
taxon's original circumscription, a method that is inherently
unstable; a circumscription may be open to interpretation or revision,
but a good type specimen clearly identifies the taxon to which it
belongs, irrespective of the scientific methodology used to define the
taxon itself. Botanical nomenclature is not, in itself, a scientific
endeavor, but a system for ordering information, i.e. taxa.
Pervading the background literature for the Phylocode is a persistent
confounding of names and taxa, an insistence that they are one and the
same thing. The failure to recognize the difference has led to several
very tenuous positions, e.g., that names can be defined, that
nomenclature itself is scientific, or that lumping and splitting --the
merging and dividing of taxa-- are nomenclatural, rather than
Key words: Linnaean taxonomy, nomenclature