|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS
|No. 441 August 8, 2011
From: John McNeill, Rapporteur-général, Nomenclature Section, XVIII IBC, Melbourne 24-29 July 2011
1) Electronic publication
The Nomenclature Section accepted a proposal to add the words in bold to Art. 29.1 and also accepted a number of corollary proposals, the effect of the more important of which is described below:
"29.1. Publication is effected, under this Code, by distribution Of printed matter (through sale, exchange or gift) to the general public or At least to botanical institutions with libraries accessible to botanists generally. (BOLD-STARTS) Publication is also effected by electronic distribution of material in Portable Document Format (PDF; see also Rec. 29A.0) in an online serial publication with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) or an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) (BOLD-ENDS) Publication is not effected by communication of new names at a public meeting, by the placing of names in collections or gardens open to the public, by the issue of microfilm made from manuscripts, typescripts or other unpublished material, (BOLD-STARTS) or by distribution electronically other than as described above."(BOLD-ENDS)
"29.2. For the purpose of this Article, 'online' is defined as accessible electronically via the World Wide Web."
In order for any nomenclatural action, e.g. the description of a new species, the transfer of a species to a different genus, or actions (typifications) to fix the application of a name, to be effective, it must be "effectively published" Article 29 specifies what this means. Hitherto the distribution of printed matter has been necessary- now this may also be distribution of electronic material in pdf.
The effective date of the new provisions is 1 January 2012, a year earlier than would be normal for implementation of a decision to change the Code's requirements.
There are also provisions establishing that the content of a particular electronic publication must not be altered after it is first issued and that a version indicated as preliminary is not effectively published.
For published comment see: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110720/full/news.2011.428.html
2) Modification of the Latin requirement
Currently, in order to publish the name of a new taxon, e.g. a species, of non-fossil plants a description and/or a diagnosis in Latin must be provided. The Nomenclature Section modified this so that effective from 1 January 2012, the description and/or diagnosis may be in either English or Latin for valid publication of the name of all new taxa. [This is the current requirement for names of plant fossils, published on of after 1 January 1996 - previously for fossil plants it was any language.]
Since 1935 a Latin description or diagnosis has been required for new taxa of all non-fossil plants, except algae, for which the requirement has existed since 1958.
3) "One fungus - one name" and "one fossil - one name"
For over 30 years, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has had provision for separate names for asexual and sexual morphs of those fungi whose life history involves such very different morphological expressions that, until recently, were commonly impossible to link one to the other. Molecular studies have changed this situation very substantially, and more and more connections are being made, so that the asexual phase (the anamorph) and the sexual phase (the teleomorph) of the one fungal species are increasingly being identified.
As a result it has become increasingly anomalous to have separate names for the anamorph and the teleomorph phases of the one fungal species, and the concept of one name for one fungus has become increasingly supported by mycologists even with a One Fungus - One Name symposium held earlier this year in Amsterdam, leading to an Amsterdam Declaration seeking this change in the Code.
The Nomenclature Section agreed to delete the Article (Art. 59) with the detailed provisions for anamorph and teleomorph names that included a restriction that the name applied to the whole fungus (the holomorph) had to be one that was based on a teleomorphic element. In the place of the current Art. 59, provisions to minimise nomenclatural change as a result of adopting the one fungus, one name principle. This change will take effect from 1 January 2013.
The nomenclature of fossils falling under the Code has had similar but even more extensive provisions for separate names for fossils that might prove to belong to the same species. In the current Code, a name based on a fossil applied only to the part of the organism, the life-history stage, or the preservational state represented by the fossil upon which the name was based. Named fossil taxa were therefore different from those of non-fossil organisms and were termed "morphotaxa".
This meant that even if organic connections could be made between different fossils, there was no clear provision for naming the more complete organism.
The Nomenclature Section decided to abandon the whole concept of morphotaxa, and as a result names of fossils will be exactly like other names, and if organic connections are made the earliest name applicable to the integrated fossil taxon will be the name to use, so as with fungi, the principle of "one fossil, one name" has been adopted.
4) "Registration" of names of fungi
Most of the major journals publishing mycological papers currently require, as a condition of acceptance of the paper, that any new name being published includes a MycoBank identifier. The Nomenclature Section agreed to go a step further and require this for valid publication of any new fungal name.
The main components of the new Article are: "For organisms treated as fungi under this Code (Pre.7), from 1 January 2013 the citation of an identifier issued by a recognized repository ... in the protologue is an additional requirement for valid publication.
Further clauses explain that the minimum elements of information being registered must be those required for valid publication under the existing provisions of the Code (Art. 32.1 (b-e)) and establish that the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi has the power to appoint "one or more localized or decentralized open and accessible electronic repositories to perform this function" to remove such repositories at its discretion; and even to set aside the requirement should the repository mechanism, cease to function.
The currently appointed repository is MycoBank (http://www.mycobank.org/)
5) Title of the Code
In order to make clearer that the Code covers fungi as well as green plants the Section agreed that the title should be:
International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, instead of the existing International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to learn about the vascular flora of British Columbia, the best source was the eight volumes of the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia (George Douglas, Del Medeinger, Jim Pojar, and Gerald Straley; 1998-2002). Yet, like other printed sources, even as it was printed, it was out of date. Today, with the development of E-Flora BC (http://eflora.bc.ca) things are very different. Not only is much of the Illustrated Flora brought online, but, in-step with the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre and the BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer, species and nomenclature is regularly updated. This ability to maintain a 'living' current record of the flora that is readily accessible is a big advantage of web-based publications and E-Flora BC.
However, E-Flora BC provides much more than a 'virtual' replacement for the eight volumes of the Illustrated Flora. The tremendous power of web-based technology means that web publications like E-Flora can place a wealth of information at your fingertips and can tap into a considerable array of other significant botanical resources. In our case, we tap into several key resources, including records from several major herbaria and, using 'deep links', several major databases of plant information, including the USDA PLANTS database, Flora North America, the Integrated Taxonomic Information (ITIS), the BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer, and NatureServe Explorer.
In addition to this harnessing of major data sources, and making them easily accessible, technological 'tools' such as digital cameras, GPS units and Google Earth now allow botanists (amateur and professional) from across the province to directly contribute to our knowledge of the flora of the province by submitting georeferenced photographs-ultimately building a new database of information that complements traditional botanical collection data. Because identification is vetted by experts, this citizen science component has added a new edge to the E-Flora data presentation.
Although we had a vision of what E-Flora BC could become when we first developed the site in 2002, little did we anticipate how comprehensive it would become. We now have over 14,500 verified photos of vascular plants (a growing number of which are georeferenced and can be interactively mapped and queried). These have been submitted by over 440 photographers. We have over 1,000,000 species records from various herbaria (including ALA, ALTA, CAN, CPNWH, V [RBCM], UBC) and from other major BC data sources (BC-CDC, BEC, IAPP). As well, E-Flora also incorporates several other provincially-significant floristic resources. This includes material extracted from other key BC publications in addition to the Illustrated Flora:
From its initial coverage of vascular plants (>3000 taxa), E-Flora BC today provides a comprehensive resource that now includes fungi (1728 taxa), lichens (1494 taxa), macro algae (593 taxa) and mosses (837 taxa). While detailed information is presently limited to common species in some of these groups, others are more comprehensive. For example, the 1723 fungi descriptions provided by Ian Gibson contain detailed descriptions compiled from major mycological works of the Northern Hemisphere and specialized monographs. There are approximately 5000 photos in the Photo Gallery covering more than 1600 non-vascular species. For the fungi alone we have 847 different taxa represented in 2569 photographs. Photos in each group are vetted by an expert before publication, ensuring the validity of the information provided through E-Flora BC.
As a result of the numerous databases we use for mapping, the publications we incorporate and bring online, and the growing dataset we are developing through photo contributions, E-Flora has evolved into a complex and significant botanical resource. (Complete details on all of the publications and databases used in E-Flora can be found on pages such as "About the data" http://www.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/data.html.) Use has increased remarkably, and there is growing use of E-Flora outside of BC. In addition to field botanists, other groups that make regular use of E-Flora include high school and public school classes, as well as university courses (e.g., biosciences, geography, forestry), gardeners, invasive species groups and the general public.
Adding to the complexity and depth of the site, and a significant complement to the comprehensive species-specific information provided in E-Flora, are the articles and essays on botanical themes. These include the overviews on the species groups covered in E-Flora, overviews on biogeography and ecology, and essays on invasive species and rare species. This material was prepared by experts on those subjects.
Unsolicited comments such as: "Thanks for the link to the beautiful E-Flora site. Really a treasure trove of clear prose and photos of natives and invasives" make us realize the impact that E-Flora has had among those of us who spend our time studying plants. But perhaps the real value of E-Flora lies in the growing use of the site by non-botanists and the general public. These are users who are exploring BC plants and botany for the first time, and for a variety of reasons, and 'get hooked'. First contact is often by way of a photo sent to us for identification. But often, now, these folks stay with us and begin sending in photos for our galleries. A new cohort of botanists is growing.
When you publish a book you will eventually know how many books have been sold, but finding out who bought the book and how often they refer to it is something you will likely never know. However, with web sites it is possible to determine how many people visit the site, and where they come from, amongst other facts.
In developing E-Flora, knowing who visits, where they come from, and what hardware and software they are using, is interesting and helpful. For example, if we want E-Flora to work on all of the different browsers and operating systems out there, we need to know what browser software our visitors use. Because our visitors use different browsers, we need to ensure that our pages display properly in all browsers, and in the many versions of each of these browsers. This requires us to write browser-specific routines for many of our pages, something that adds complexity to the running of the site.
By examining the Google statistics for E-Flora BC we can identify that, in July, 2011, 1987 people visited the home page of E-Flora BC; those people viewed 11,868 different pages in total, spending on average 5 minutes and 30 seconds looking at the pages. Thirty-two percent of those visitors in July were visiting E-Flora for the first time, while forty percent visited the site ten or more times (10% visited the site more than 100 times in July). According to Google, forty percent of the visitors used Internet Explorer when viewing the pages, while thirty-one percent used Firefox and nineteen percent use Safari. We are seeing an increase in the number of people using mobile devices to view the site (about 5% in the past month). Over the past six months there have been over 25,000 visitors to E-Flora's home page (note that these numbers only refer to visits to the home page, not to any of the Atlas pages or to the photo gallery).
How do people find the site? Forty-four percent of visitors came to the E-Flora home page as a result of a Google search, using a variation of 'E-Flora' as their search term. Twenty-six percent came directly to the site (i.e., they have a bookmark that leads them directly to the home page), while thirty percent arrived by clicking on a link on another site.
Where do the visitors come from? In the past six months, people from 92 different countries have visited E-Flora BC. While most are from Canada (85%), 7% come from the United States. About equal numbers of visitors came from the UK, Germany, France, India, Spain, China and Sweden. We even have had a few visitors from Iran, Iraq, Iceland and Qatar.
How accurate are these statistics? The data that is collected by Google only relates to people who visit the home page. Therefore, if someone uses Google to look for a specific species and goes directly to an Atlas page, or if someone has bookmarked the E-Flora photo gallery page, Google doesn't track their visit. Thus, the number of people who use E-Flora is under-represented by the statistics presented above. Some indication of this undercounting is evident by the observation that 20% of the visitors to the home page come from 'within' E-Flora-that is, they arrived at the home page by clicking on the 'E-Flora BC Home Page' button presented at the top of an Atlas page.
Thus, we can see that while E-Flora BC is used primarily by people from BC, there are people from around the world who have visited the site. What is the most common request we receive? We typically get several emails a week asking if we can help identify an unknown plant and, most of the time, we are able to provide an answer (thanks, in part, to the many people in BC's botanical community who provide assistance to E-Flora BC). We have also received emails asking if we could provide guidance in the development of similar sites and, lately, if we were considering the development of an E-Flora 'app.' That is, in fact, something we are working on, although the process is one fraught with complications, the primary one being that the target is constantly shifting (that is, what was considered the best way to create an 'app' last year is now considered not appropriate, so one has to be always aware of upcoming trends in software development).
For those interested, we are also working on a companion site to E-Flora BC. E-Fauna BC (http://efauna.bc.ca), an atlas of the wildlife of British Columbia. This site is steadily growing and now contains atlas pages for many faunal groups, including bats, carnivores, fish, earthworms, land snails, dragonflies, butterflies, mosquitoes, sea stars and crabs.
The 3rd edition is now available for $29.95 from trafford.com or amazon.com
The Junipers of the World contains a synthesis of data on evolution by examining: Geographic Variation: Pan-Arctic variation in Juniperus communis, etc. Speciation in sections of the genus: Species concepts, Speciation in Juniperus section Juniperus, etc. In addition, Keys to Juniperus are provided by region: Eastern Hemisphere, Europe (including Azores, Canary Islands, Asia Minor and Africa), Central Asia (Turkmenistan to Western Himalayas), China, Far East (Japan, Korea, Sakhalin Island, Taiwan),
Western Hemisphere, Continental North America, United States and Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, and the Caribbean. Also included are Species' Descriptions, Distribution Maps and Plant Photos, and chapters on Hybridization, Ecology, Cultivated Junipers, Commercial uses of leaf and wood oils of Juniperus, a Cross Indexed Synonymy of Juniperus, and Tables on the Leaf essential oils by species in sections. This book supplements the web site http://www.juniperus.org/ and the reader will find literature citations and a detailed discussion of data that is not present on the web site. "The Junipers of the World is now the authoritative reference for Juniperus." "Prof. Adams has presented arguments for the recognition of species and varieties by showing the data analyses that led to taxonomic decisions. This is one of the few treatments that really integrates data and the reasoning behind taxonomic decisions. In addition, Prof. Adams is candid in admitting that the recognition of some taxa are not well supported and deserve additional study." "An essential reference book that will be useful for herbaria, museums, wildlife biologists, Range scientist, foresters, ecologists and all who are involved in identification and study of Juniperus species."
Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
BEN is archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/