Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of Life/Archive 12

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Archives for WT:TOL edit

1 2002-07 – 2003-12 Article names
2 2003-11 – 2004-02 Taxoboxes
3 2004-02 Taxoboxes
4 2004-02 – 2004-08 Bold taxa; taxonomy
5 2004-03 – 2004-04 Taxonomy; photos; range maps
6 2005-04 – 2004-06 Capitalization; authorities; mammals
7 2004-06 – 2004-08 Creationism; parens; common names
8 2004-05 – 2004-08 Templates; †extinct; common names
9 2004-05 – 2004-08 Categories; taxoboxes
10 2004-08 – 2004-12 Categories; authorities; domains; Wikispecies; ranks; G. species; capitalization; Common Names
11 2004-11 – 2005-05 Capitalization; common names; categories; L.; authorities; algae; cultivars
12 2005-03 – 2005-05 Ranks; common names
13 2005-05 – 2005-06 Hybrids; taxobox format; cultivars
14 2005-06 – 2005-07 Categories; food plants; identification; Capitalization
15 2005-07 – 2005-09 Synonyms; types; authorities; status; identification
16 2005-09 – 2005-12 Paleontological ranges; Rosopsida; Taxobox redesign; identification
17 2005-12 – 2006-04 Taxobox redesign; identification; APG; common names; capitalization
18 2006-04 – 2006-10 Categorization; include in references; snakes; range maps; seasonality graph; common names; bioregions; brya;
19 2006-10 – 2007-03 various
20 2007-03 – 2007-06 various
21 2007-06 (Next 64 Kb) various
22 (Next 64 Kb) various
23 (Next 64 Kb) various
24 (Next 64 Kb) various

Raking Ranking[edit]

As I am a cladist at heart I'm a bit irked by the use of ranks above Family. Most of the time they're unnecessary clutter and just bring a number of terms that don't mean all that much. Perhaps I'm scaring up an issue that has been settled, but even so I'd like to give my oppinion.

Ranks, when they were first introduced, just stated similarities in form or uniting morphologies not evolutionary relationships. Of course with the acceptance of evolution the ranks grouped creatures with a similar evolutionary background. They often reflected the perceived importance of particular groups ecologically or culturally and not really their morphological diversity.

For example, dinosaurs are much more morphologically diverse than are birds (being the affirmation found in some books that bird orders could be easily collapsed into families a coroboration). In spite of that birds are a class because it has historically been so, and not for any other reason. It is certain that birds are a group with ecological importance nowadays and occupy most flying niches, but phylogeny and taxonomy should first reflect ascendent/descendent relations and not artificial classifications based on human "prejudices" brought about by the Holocene natural world.

So I think that as a good measure, and respecting the NPOV the Taxoboxes should present cladistic classification as presented in the [Dinosauricon Classification Pages] along with the Linnaean classification. Perhaps with Linnaean ranks in parentheses after the name of the clade. Any oppinions? - Dracontes 11:38, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

What, you don't put "Class" or "Order" or whatever in front of a rank, but just float a word out there, adding new ones inbetween as opinion dictates and that is supposed to be an advancement in process? - Marshman 17:15, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
When Linnaean ranks do much the same, as in some papers on Liaoning dinosaur taxa in which the most abscondent example is Sinosauropterygiformes: Sinosauropterygidae: Sinosauropteryx prima when the animal by all accounts is a feathered compsognathid, that's not much of a reason. Not talking about that inordinate urge taxonomists had of erecting families for just one species. So no, not every node of the tree has to have a designation (only the most significative ones) though they do have to have definitions. Dracontes 13:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think presenting separate Linnaean and cladistic classifications is a bad idea. It creates the misleading impression that there are two types of taxonomy. Taxonomy is dynamic, there are many systems out there, and most of the new ones follow both Linnaean and cladistic principles to some extent. For instance, APGII uses orders and families but is purely clade-based; would we list the same thing twice?Josh

When thinking about it... Yes there are two types of classification: one that who knows how it works (Linnaean) as definitions are at best fuzzy. And a phylogenetic approach that leaves definitions of groupings much clearer, IMO (Y'know what? One doesn't even need names for groups now if definitions are available.)
No, Dracontes. I'll repeat what I said, most recent Linnaean taxonomy is based on phylogenetic principles. To pretend there are two separate methods leading to two separate systems completely ignores the reality for most groups.

Speaking about opposing Linnaean and cladistic systems applies mainly to the vertebrates. Here the traditional Linnaean system is still more common, and quite frankly more useful.Josh

I'd like it for you to put up evidence on how is it more useful (I'm not in any way suggesting its removal from Wikipedia). Do ellucidate as I've been hypeing on this newfangled cladistics for some years and may have been mislead. Dracontes 13:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The sequence of clades is a valid description of the phylogeny, but using it to organize information has proven difficult. The traditional classes make it easy to discuss many properties of the organisms in question, correspond well with most literature, and represent the phylogeny - using paraphyletic groups, but I've never seen that confuse anyone about true relationships. It might change, but at the moment they're more useful. Josh

The cladistic system is an important alternative, but there are many groups where there are several alternative classifications, and the taxobox simply isn't the place to list them. Listing the clades in the article body should be enough, in my opinion. Josh

Fair enough. And I think now that taxoboxes are as good as they get. I'll just ignore the ranks (when reading, I'll put them there while writing up an article). So being taxonomy dynamic (an I apologize if I may have given an otherwise impression) why not a clade page with a "consensus" tree and smaller versions for alternative views? But I do think a standard classification method should be used, it's supposed that communication of knowledge should be simple and not complicated. So I think it's hardly ever the point to discuss ranks when one should discuss nodes. Dracontes 13:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Also, I find the idea that any classification system is anything other than artificial is missing a point somewhere. Even at the level of species there is plenty that is artificial about our designations. And I do not think anyone really expects that say an "order" as applied by ichthyologists will correspond exactly in some natural way to an order as used by entomologists. Cladistics is a tool, not some kind of natural system of order in the biosphere; phylogeny does reflect descendent relationships (by definition, I think); and taxonomy is an "artificial classification based on human prejudices" hopefully subject always to improvement using tools like cladistics and genetics, improvement hopefully along phylogenetic lines. And there is not likely ever to be parity in understanding or completeness between the extant flora and fauna and that of times past, so however you arrive at your classification, it will be strongly biased to the Holocene - Marshman 21:06, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Yes indeed. Though the more artificial and human prejudice bias is left out the better.
Though by that same token why use orders or other ranks when they are diferently interpreted among scientists of different areas? I have to note that when one knows what the name of a clade means ranks seem nothing short of irrelevant as Elpistostegalia is more evocative than suborder. Dracontes 13:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Ranks don't say anything about the composition of a group, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful. For instance, they tell you the relative sizes of taxa. When I tell you that Carassius is in family Cyprinidae and order Cypriniformes, it's clear how the groups relate. Not so when I tell you that Actinophrys is a heterokont, actinodine, and axodine. The tree is what matters, but the ranks can make its structure more obvious, and have proven to be a good way of organizing information.
Now when there is no consensus on the rank of a group at all, it doesn't help to give one, and we shouldn't. By the same token, when there is no idea how a group should be classified, we shouldn't give an authoritative list of subgroups. That doesn't change that these things are frequently useful. Josh

"For example, dinosaurs are much more morphologically diverse than are birds (being the affirmation found in some books that bird orders could be easily collapsed into families a coroboration)" - this is a bit misleading. While birds evolved from one family of dinosaurs, they have had 60 million years more to diversify and evolve from one family into numerous orders. And of course dinosaur classification itself over their far longer period has to reflect that taxa do not stay the same rank over time, with species becoming genera, families, orders, and so on. - MPF 22:47, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Erm... Population begets population and that's about it. As I see it there is no validity to that last phrase you wrote. Populations are what evolves, either clado or orthogenetically, and one can't forcibly think that a taxon rank changes into another by natural processes, only by human scrutiny does that happen.
Errr . . . Wikipedia is human scrutiny :-) . . . MPF 21:01, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Ranks don't change by natural processes because they don't exist in nature. However, species routinely turn into groups of species, into larger groups of species.
Neornithes did diversify before the K-Pg. Earlier this year Vegavis iaai was discribed in Nature (20 January 2005) as a 67-million-year-old stem duck just as Presbyornis is. So galliformes and tinamiformes should already exist by that time.
In fact non-avian dinos had much more time to evolve than Neornitheans: 165 against 120 million years. Not mentioning that birds are quite conservative in body plan... Dracontes 13:01, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Scientific name page titles[edit]

Bringing this one up again (from Common names above) - I'd like to commence on at least a trial start with some plant families, moving pages from vernacular name titles to scientific name titles. It seemed a popular idea when discussed above, with only the size of the task dissuading action. If no-one objects strongly, I'll start with some of the conifers. - MPF 18:20, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Yes! Good plan. -- WormRunner | Talk 00:17, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree - Marshman 17:53, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Probably for plants it will work out better than for animals since there are so many common names for plants, and so few of the scientific names about species level will have conflicts. Animals have so many common names that are the same as the scientific names (above species level), that this would mean some significant juggling around of some articles, and making choices that are sometims less than obvious.... and then we'd still want to have articles about commonly named groups of animals that would not have a single scientific name grouping. I shudder to think of all the bird articles that would get moved...... - UtherSRG 01:29, Apr 26, 2005 (UTC)

Started with the Araucariaceae. I need admin help though to move Wollemi Pine to Wollemia, please. Thanks - MPF 16:30, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Got it. - UtherSRG 16:44, Apr 26, 2005 (UTC)
Super, thanks! - MPF 17:34, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I even merged the histories. And for anyone wondering, posting move requests of this nature instead of WP:RM is fine by me... these requests wouldn't need to be voted on since they are part of a shift in idealogy of a WikiProject. - UtherSRG 18:12, Apr 26, 2005 (UTC)
Excellent. On posting the move request here, that's what I'd guessed :-) Araucariaceae completed now; it's a slow task, but much of that is because of doing lots of other editing while I'm at it (like when I discovered there wasn't any info on what Wollemia looked like!). All in all, I think it's worthwhile though. - MPF 19:59, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
With the posting of move requests like that, it would be almost no additional burden to come up with some boilerplate statement to be put on the talk page of the affected article pointing out that such a request has been made. Gene Nygaard 02:54, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

Hi Uther - another move request please: Chinese Arborvitae to Platycladus - thanks, MPF 17:57, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Done! - UtherSRG 18:25, Apr 27, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks! - MPF 18:43, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Kind of sad to think that something like Category:Cupressaceae will be rendered useless for non-experts - "Monterey Cypress" I can recognize in the category listing, "Cupressus macrocarpa" not. But in the apparent absence of readers, I guess it doesn't matter much either way. Stan 21:35, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Often wondered if anyone ever reads the stuff we put in here!

In a case like this, could an argument be made for including categories on redirects? The "Monterey Cypress" would still show up in the Category. Guettarda 22:44, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Uther - another two please: Dawn Redwood to Metasequoia, and Coast Redwood to Sequoia - thanks, MPF 21:38, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Done! Ack! I finished the first and you've already added the second. Ok... Done! *grins* - UtherSRG 21:54, Apr 27, 2005 (UTC)
Thanks! There'll prolly be more . . . :-) MPF 22:52, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The second move doesn't make much sense. Sequoia should be about the genus, and the Coast Redwood is only one of the species, according to Sequoia (disambiguation). Also, sorry for coming in so late, but are we really sure Sequoia semprovirens is a better name for the article than Coast Redwood? It's true we're too eager to use common names, many of which are less common than the scientific, but Stan's right. We can't assume no readers, and we want to keep things like pine and cypress. Josh

S. semprovirens is monotypic in the genus. There are two other trees called sequoias, but none of the three are in the same genus. One is in Metasequoia, the other in Sequoiadendron. - UtherSRG 22:46, Apr 27, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, Sequoia is about the genus; being a monotypic genus, there isn't any need to have a separate Sequoia sempervirens page. I'll be adding a note at the top of Sequoia to point at the disambig page for the other two. I take your (Josh's) & Stan's point, but I think internal consistency within a family/category is probably even more important (Cupressaceae was a real mess of a mix of scientific and vernacular before!), and keeping vernacular names for all the family wasn't really a valid option in this family. As for cypress, that's already a disambig page; Pinaceae I haven't started to tackle yet. - MPF 22:52, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Why would considerations of "internal consistency" override intelligibility to the whole reader population? The English language itself is not internally consistent, but we don't all switch to speaking Esperanto because of that. If nothing else, the dual system is a good indicator of commonly-known taxa, vs ones only recognized by specialists. Neither all-Latin nor all-English are ever going to be possible - you are simply never ever going to get agreement to rename lion to panthera leo, so you're guaranteed to have some English names no matter what. Let's think of a rule that will take that into account - a while back I mentioned my personal rule, which was "Latin if there is any doubt as to a single English name". Stan 04:22, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Aquaria contain both neon tetras and Plecostomus, and gardeners will plant sunflowers alongside Xeranthemum. Fossil collections may contain oysters as well as Phacodinida, and under the microscope I find roundworms more often than Volvocales. A mix of names isn't more confusing than one system or the other, if it's what people are used to. And the taxonomic hierarchy isn't the only way to group species - range, habitat, time period, and use are all important.

Why not follow the wikipedia standard: use the most common name? This shouldn't mean vernacular at all costs, and there are many pages that should be moved to the scientific name (including Sequoia, sorry for my mistake). But we don't have to be rigid, sometimes the vernacular can be better. And as I've mentioned before, there are cases where it is less ambiguous (dicot vs Magnoliopsida) and more stable (conifer vs Pinophyta). Josh

I prefer the use of the scientific name, especially for pages at the family and genus level, after considering the last discussion on common vs. scientific names if there is a common name with clear usage for a species I tend to use it.--nixie 08:45, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

A lot of people here seem to be losing sight of the basic philosophy of Wikipedia:Naming conventions, Generally, article naming should give priority to what the majority of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature.
See my talk page for the nonsense about California redwood by MPF.
I agree with Gene. It is just confusing to have the tree most people know as the Redwood, or Costal Redwood, or California Redwood called Sequoia on Wikipedia. To most people, sequoia refers to the Giant Sequoia, another native tree of california. Bonus Onus 02:09, May 19, 2005 (UTC)
Somebody mentioned categories already, but let me go into that in more detail:
Has anybody even thought about what to do when a current article covers dozens of species?
How about when one species has several different articles?
Now let's factor in the difficulty of making the links. Sure, with redirects, we will still be able to make links to the common names.
  • However, there are a significant number of Wikipedia editors who like to avoid redirects at all costs. When they get their fingers on an article, it will become so cluttered up on the edit page that it will be much more difficult for future editors when they need to deal with those edit pages.
If you are not going to do a blanket policy for all of them, including human to Homo sapiens sapiens and barley to Hordeum vulgare and sheep to Ovis aries, then common courtesy requires that you give notice of any intended change on any page to be affected.
Some participants in this discussion have blathered naively about some vague, subjective dividing line between what is changed and what isn't changed. That simply isn't going to work. Any but the most obvious conformity with the general policy discussed above should be discussed on the talk pages of the articles in question, to give the people who have worked hard on that article some say in what happens to it. Gene Nygaard 12:37, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Answers to some of the above:

  1. Most plant species simply don't have common names, or if they do, they're invented names without any real currency (like e.g. Johann's Pinyon). To cite a minuscule sample of crop plants is not very relevant, and can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis if necessary. To bring in livestock and pets is also wholly outside the boundary of this discussion about plants.
  2. A huge number of plants have several common names; to bring in Sequoia sempervirens again, the most widely used is Coast Redwood, not california redwood (an ambiguous name also used for Sequoiadendron giganteum) where it has currently been moved to. Equally, many common names refer to completely different plants in different places; look at e.g. Sycamore; to use them results either in confusion or imposition of a regional POV. Scientific names don't have this problem.
  3. "Has anybody even thought about what to do when a current article covers dozens of species?" - Of course. Take a look at any page about a genus or a family. Or if a common name covers several unrelated taxa, then a disambig page.
  4. "How about when one species has several different articles?" - Not relevant, this doesn't happen, or if it does by accident (e.g. by different editors creating pages under different common names), they are merged.
  5. "... to give the people who have worked hard on that article some say in what happens to it ..." - That is to a large extent the same people who have "blathered naively" here. I trust future contributions to this debate will avoid such intemperate language. Thank you.

MPF 14:15, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Some replies, by the numbers:
1. In those cases it is a moot point. The only time you have a decision to make is when they do have a common name.
  • To bring in livestock and pets is by no stretch of the imagination outside the boundary of this discussion, the "tree" in the title of this page includes them too. The same is proposed for them in the section above, from which this notion of a test run starting with a few plants was a spinoff.
2. Several common names is not much of a problem; that's what redirects are for. But people looking in the categories such as Category:Flowers or Category:Crops or whatever will more likely find them under one of the common names, than they would under one of the often several scientific names.
  • Disambiguation pages, or just a disambiguation line in other articles, takes care of the other problem. This is something still necessary, whether the disambiguation points to a scientific name or to a common name.
3. There are cases where one species, or group of related species, has several articles. Some are by design (Squash and pumpkin come to mind). Others are the type you describe. I don't deal with plant articles very often, but before I ever became involved in this discussion, I had run across one of them, and added merge template tags to them. They still haven't been changed, however.
4. Two points here:
  • there are a great many people who have contributed to the individual articles who never come here to this project page.
  • Those who have "blathered naively" here when talking in glittering generalities would probably also like it called to their attention in regards to individual articles, especially since no clear dividing line has been drawn here. Given a specific focal point, those who have blathered naively when talking in general terms so far might well come out of the experience with a better view of the issues involved. Gene Nygaard 02:54, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

One thing I wonder about is why so few people are paying attention to this. I count less than ten people talking about the issue, but the proposed rule change would affect articles like human which are probably watched by hundreds of editors, and who would be unimpressed by a "consensus" consisting of just five editors here. One could probably rename pine species all day without anybody noticing, but the proposal is not just for pines. What do we need to do to raise awareness? The pump is not so useful, it's so overloaded that I'm not sure that the relevant editors will notice. We could put notes on a random selection of pages Talk:human, Talk:lion, Talk:rose, etc - my guess is lots of resistance from animal people, not so much from plant people. In any case, the moving was billed as an experiment, so I guess that means Gene Nygaard's outburst is a data point. :-) Stan 14:33, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I don't think anyone (certainly not me) has seriously suggested doing this for animals yet. I'd agree with your comment that it would be less popular for mammals & birds in particular (which generally have more fixed common names than plants) MPF 16:36, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes, just to confirm, I would object in the strongest possible terms if this was suggested for mammals (for example) but at it stands I for one am happy to trust people who know about pines to do the right thing with pine articles. Pcb21| Pete 17:10, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)


This article contains all sorts of stuff either applicable to Ranidae (the true frogs) or other frogs (those anurans cuter than toads), which is incorrect of course. Now, aside from the factual inaccuracies still present in the article, how are para/polyphyletic groups accepted by laymen best handled on wikipedia? Keep toad and frog separated as it is now and refer to genera and families that are "accepted as frogs" (I only know something about European frogs, and they are slightly messy already). Or take the "bah, semantics" stance, be userunfriendly and only use Anura, further divided into Archaeobatrachia etc (with frog and toad redirecting). Phlebas 17:53, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

And? Any opinions? Phlebas 13:09, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

Articles should be named in a reasonable manner to cover the information presented. In this case, I think there should be an article called frog which covers all frogs, an article called toad which covers all toads, and various articles describing Anura as a whole and Ranidae, etc. as individual groupings. When two articles overlap entirely in this manner, then the article should be placed at the more common naming, with the less common redirecting to it. - UtherSRG 13:40, May 5, 2005 (UTC)

I'll devote myself to this section, being an amphibian enthusiast. I'll work on revamping it correctly. Julienlecomte 8:47, 14 Juil. 2005 (UTC)

Plants - latin vs english naming convention[edit]

Sorry to butt in, I'm a newbie with an interest in plants. I'm reposting a question I posed on the Talk Page for User:Circeus, a member of WikiProject Plants, who suggested I post it here.

Re-post of message: Coincidentally, the other day I was searching for plants, in preparation of making my 'To do' list, and noticed several moves (e.g. Ajuga to Bugle), which indicate a preference here at Wikipedia to use english rather than latin names. I find that rather confusing (perplexing), since when we talk about the larger picture (e.g. genus etc) we use latin. Since I plan to contribute articles/pics in the area of plants, I'd like to get clarification on the latin vs. english nomenclature for page titles. My user page has a list of articles/pics that I plan to contribute. I hope that fits in with what the rest of the team is doing. If I should have posted this on the team Discussion page, please let me know.

Since I wrote the above note, I've read the discussion here, as well as the guidelines related to 'always use common names'. I had planned to use latin names for articles, and would like to know if a final consensus on this topic was reached here at ToL. Mia Goff 18:41, May 10, 2005 (UTC)

Well, there's no always-right answer, but the general rule of thumb is a preference for the (English) common name, but to use the scientific name when the use of the common name would cause more confusion than it would prevent. Also, there are times when more than one article would be appropriate, such as when the common name crosses scientific boundaries, then there should probably be an article for the common name grouping and for the scientific name group. You mileage may vary. *grins* If you're really stymied, ask here or on WP:PLANTS, but be bold and write those articles, we can always move and tweak them afterwards. - UtherSRG 20:35, May 10, 2005 (UTC)
I'd use a latin name only if the species name are too wide-ranging to meet an acceptable plural for the genus. I usually write my article first at the scientific name, then move it to its vernacular, to simplify things (I don't have to create the redirect from scratch). I've already explained to you my basic understanding at yoour talk page. Note that obviously, if common and latin name are identical (bergenia, comes to mind)... Circeus 22:43, May 10, 2005 (UTC)
Note that parts of what I've written violates the above discussion #Scientific name page titles, a policy I actually do not agree with (especially considering there are, to a certain extent, normalized list of vernacular species name, at least in French)
Ok thanks for the clarification. I'll get writing/picture taking as soon as the weather turns bad here. Right now, my priority is work in the garden. Also, am trying to familiarize myself with the MoS. Mia Goff 19:54, May 11, 2005 (UTC)

Contradiction in text[edit]

"In cases where a group only contains a single subgroup, the two need not be kept separate. If
there is no common name, the article should go under the scientific name with the lowest rank, 
down to the level of genus. For instance, the division Ginkgophyta, class Ginkgoopsida, order 
Ginkgoales and family Ginkgoaceae only contain the single species Ginkgo biloba, so there is a 
single article for them at Ginkgo with the other pages redirecting to it. However, it may be 
noted that Ginkgophyta does have other extinct members, and so these groups may be separated 
out as pages on them are added.
A useful heuristic is to create articles in a "downwards" order, that is, family articles
first, then genus, then species. If you find that information is getting thin, or the
family/genus is really small, just leave the species info inline in the family or genus
article, don't try to force it down any further. An exception to this is monotypic families or
genera; create a species article then redirect family and genus names to it."

This seems to be a contradiction in the text. The first alinea says that one should create only the genus article when a genus is monotypic, while the third alinea says that one should create the species article, with the genus (and/or family) as redirects. Ucucha See Mammal Taxonomy 06:09, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

So fix it. - UtherSRG 22:18, May 12, 2005 (UTC)
Gingko is perhaps not the best example, because it's just a coincidence that the common name is the same as the genus name, and the article is placed according to the "common name" rule. So no contradiction. But do we have another species that is monotypic at multiple levels, and has a common name different from systematic name? Stan 23:28, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
We do indeed: Vampire Squid and Aye-aye. Obviously, we place those article at the common name, which is most often the preferred placement of the article. What we need is an article whose scientific name is more common than is "common" name, is a monotypic species and is placed at the genus level, and the genus is monotypic in a listed family or sub-family taxon. - UtherSRG 00:00, May 13, 2005 (UTC)

Lots of things are available, but the problem is we don't have an entirely consistent policy. Normally we use the name of lowest rank, I think. For monotypic genera, though, we often use the generic name since its part of the binomial. Compare the animals Trichoplax, Symbion, and Limnognathia, each with a single species and in its own phylum. Some pages go the other way - a random scan finds Kenyanthropus platyops.

Some other exceptions exist, too. For instance, conifers are currently listed as Pinophyta instead of Pinopsida. In this case, the former name is what tends to be used, although I think there is enough variability that conifer would be the best bet. Before we change the passage, maybe we should decide what the standard is. Josh

But what's the best? I think we should prefer the genus name. Ucucha See Mammal Taxonomy 05:26, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm having the exact same issue over at Sheathbill with Sabine's Sunbird. I'd appreciate a decision. Circeus 10:52, May 13, 2005 (UTC)
Issue is a strong word. I guess it's that in ornithology I'm used to thinking of birds in terms of species or family, not genus (except for a few awkward genera like Empidonax flycatchers or gadfly petrels). The construction that sheathbills were a genus seemed not wrong but irrelevant and inellegant. A shorebird biologist would tell you that the sheathbills were Antarctica's only endemic family of birds. The point is moot, however, as UtherSRG's edit is an improvement I can live with. Sabine's Sunbird 15:17, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Takes a bow* Thanks! - UtherSRG 15:29, May 13, 2005 (UTC)
The advantage of using the genus as the base unit for monotypic taxa is that it has the shortest, most familiar and most readily remembered title. Sciadopitys is easier to find for someone doing a search, than either Sciadopityaceae or Sciadopitys verticillata. - MPF 15:37, 16 May 2005 (UTC)
Maybe, but less important for mammals and birds where common names are more, well, common, and therefore likley to be used. Sabine's Sunbird 03:04, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

We should have general guidelines for other things. I'd propose

  1. Use the vernacular when it is well-known and unambiguous.
  2. Otherwise use the generic name, if applicable.
  3. Otherwise use the name most often used to refer to the group when it is being discussed without rank, as in cladistics, if there is a clear preference. For instance, phylum names are usually preferable to class names.
  4. Finally, names associated with the lowest rank are preferred - family over order, order over class, etc. Intermediate ranks such as suborder should be avoided if possible.

Does this sound reasonable to everyone? Would anyone object to stating it explicitly in the naming guidelines? Josh

It's good. Ucucha See Mammal Taxonomy 16:18, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

Ok. I've resolved the contradiction in favor of this standard, then. Josh

Collective Terms for Groups of Animals[edit]

Some of us may be groping for the exact term for a group of animals (ever heard of a sounder of wild boars ?). I made a Word document of those terms, sampled from the OED. It's 16 pages long (about 585 Kb). If anyone is interested, just send me an email to I'll send you then this text as an appendix (with the extension .doc) to your email address. JoJan 13:31, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

You should check with the lists at Collective noun Circeus 13:53, May 17, 2005 (UTC)

Taxobox errors[edit]

I am currently running a bot to make redirects from Latin names for taxa to the articles about those taxa, for example Cyclarhis gujanensis to Rufous-browed Peppershrike. I plan to do this for binomials, trinomials, and genera (when the genus is monotypic), using data from article taxboxes.

As a side-effect of this project, I've made a report on apparent errors in taxoboxes where the binomial appears to be missing, or fails to match the genus and species. See User:Gdr/Nomialbot/Report 2005-05-19. Gdr 22:37, 2005 May 19 (UTC)

Gosh, I forgot to point out this would have to take in account the normal boxes' species entry has the genus abbreviated. Also, the bot seems to threat higher groups (that do not even have a {{taxobox species entry}}) as if they were species... So 90% of these are cases were the bot should not have applied itself or couldn't cope correctly with the regular taxobox syntax. Circeus 23:19, May 19, 2005 (UTC)

I'm don't understand what you are getting at. Can you give some examples of the problems you are seeing? Gdr 23:37, 2005 May 19 (UTC)

These are all fixed now, except for a few awkward cases. Thank you to everyone who helped. Gdr 17:02, 2005 May 24 (UTC)

Automated taxobox update possibilities[edit]

Here are some things that could be done automatically or with automated assistance:

  1. Where {{Taxobox section binomial}} has three words, change it to {{Taxobox section trinomial}}. (Example: Formosan Clouded Leopard) (Done.)
  2. Where a taxobox has {{Taxobox genus entry}} and {{Taxobox species entry}} but no {{Taxobox section binomial}} (or any of the variants), add the latter. (Example: American eel) (Done, mostly.)
  3. Where Wikipedia has articles on species in a genus, but no article on the genus, synthesize a stub article on the genus. (Example: we have Phoenicurus moussieri, Phoenicurus phoenicurus, and Phoenicurus ochruros but no Phoenicurus) I'm not going to do this; too much judgement required.

Are any of these good things to do? Gdr 09:27, 2005 May 20 (UTC)

All look like good ideas to me. Here's a few others:
  1. Modify {{Taxobox authority}} to take a single parameter (authority) then ({{Taxobox authority new}} created. Its contents should replace those of {{Taxobox authority}}.)
    1. Fix usage of the old style to the new style
    2. Replace {{taxobox section binomial}}, {{taxobox section binomial parens}}, and {{taxobox section binomial botany}} with {{taxobox section binomial simple}}‹br›{{taxobox authority}}
UtherSRG 14:42, May 20, 2005 (UTC)

Can you explain the reasoning behind this proposal? Is there a consensus that it is desirable? Gdr 17:37, 2005 May 24 (UTC)

  1. It simplifies things. One binomial template is needed instead of 3? 4? One trinomial, too.
  2. More flexibility. The single paramter can be formatte dhowever needed (botany vs. zoology, parens vs. no parens).
  3. The original was my creation, and I was a fool to make it so rigid.
  4. Having the separate authority template allows authority to be used within the taxobox instead of just at the end. (See Cheirogaleidae, for example.)
  5. There have been no complaints about the ones that I have changed. It just needs to be done, and then have the usage page updated.
- UtherSRG 17:52, May 24, 2005 (UTC)