Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ave Atque Vale: Botany bids 'hail and farewell' to Latin-only descriptions in 2012

Date:
December 21, 2011
Source:
The New York Botanical Garden
Summary:
Big changes to the code for botanical nomenclature will go into effect on Jan. 1, scientists say. Latin will no longer be the exclusive language for descriptions of new species, and publication in online journals and books will be as valid as print publication.

In a major effort to speed up the process of officially recognizing new plant species, botanists will no longer be required to provide Latin descriptions of new species, and publication in online academic journals and books will be considered as valid as print publication.

Related Articles


The new rules, which were approved at a nomenclature conference held in conjunction with the International Botanical Congress in July, become effective January 1, 2012. They overturn longstanding historical requirements for identifying new species of plants, algae, and fungi.

"These are fundamental changes that are going to facilitate the ability to name and describe new species," said James S. Miller, Ph.D., Dean and Vice President for Science at The New York Botanical Garden, who is the lead author of a summary of the new rules in the online journal PhytoKeys. "Eliminating the Latin requirement and moving to electronic publication will really expedite and simplify the process of describing the diversity that's out there."

The changes are far from academic. Botanists name about 2,000 new species of plants, algae, and fungi every year, an important initial step in assessing and ultimately conserving the biodiversity of a habitat. Scientists are concerned, however, because they believe that many more plants remain to be discovered and named -- if environmental problems such as climate change and deforestation do not drive them to extinction first.

By doing away with the Latin and print requirements, botanists are removing two major obstacles that slow down the process of naming and describing new species. Writing scientifically accurate and grammatically correct Latin descriptions is cumbersome and time-consuming in an age when fewer scientists are comfortable with Latin, once the lingua franca of science. And publishing a new species in a print journal can entail months, if not years of waiting.

"In an age where almost certainly 20 percent of the world's plant species, and undoubtedly much greater percentages of fungi and algae, remain to be discovered, described and named, this step will hopefully help taxonomists in their race to document biological diversity before it is lost to the deforestation and habitat degradation that threatens their extinction," Dr. Miller and his colleagues wrote, referring to the new rule recognizing electronic publication.

As part of the process of establishing the scientific foundation for a new species, botanists must describe the species in exacting detail, focusing on the attributes that make a species unique. Since 1908 the international code for botanical nomenclature has required that description to be in Latin.

For example, when Dr. Miller gave a new species the binomial name Cordia koemarae in 2001, his lengthy Latin description began, "Arbor ad 8 m alta, ramunculis sparse pilosis, trichomatis 2-2.5 mm longis." (Tree 8 meters tall, the twigs sparsely but evenly pilose [covered with fine hairs], the hairs 2-2.5 mm long.)

With the new nomenclature rules, the binomial scientific names for new species will still be Latinized, but a Latin description of the plant will no longer be mandatory. Beginning in 2012, the description must be in either Latin or English.

Botanists hope that an additional benefit of electronic publication of new species will be that more researchers will have easy access to the information.

"As many universities and research institutions in the developing world cannot afford to subscribe to large numbers of journals, it is hoped that this will improve access for a greater number of the world's taxonomists," the authors wrote.

Some 200 delegates, most of them members of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, attended the nomenclature conference, which met in conjunction with the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia, in July. The meetings are held once every six years.

Dr. Miller welcomed the changes as an important step in modernizing and accelerating one of the basic activities of the biological sciences -- cataloging the world's biodiversity.

"There's an urgency in describing the plants of the world," he said. "I don't think we have any capacity to understand and take care of nature unless we can identify it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The New York Botanical Garden. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The New York Botanical Garden. "Ave Atque Vale: Botany bids 'hail and farewell' to Latin-only descriptions in 2012." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211332.htm>.
The New York Botanical Garden. (2011, December 21). Ave Atque Vale: Botany bids 'hail and farewell' to Latin-only descriptions in 2012. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211332.htm
The New York Botanical Garden. "Ave Atque Vale: Botany bids 'hail and farewell' to Latin-only descriptions in 2012." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211332.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins