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The First International Congress on Phylogenetic Nomenclature



Let's see what I remember from a month ago. Hm... it was very interesting,
and it was a good experience to actually see and talk with all those (nice,
it turns out)people that I knew only as names on a paper or an e-mail!

However, there was far too little time to discuss all the topics (despite
the small number of participants)! Five minutes of discussion after a
15-minute talk is already short, but (surprisingly) many if not most
contributors didn't stay in time, so after some talks there was no
discussion at all. (It is sad to see people click through lots of
interesting slides...) Add to this the fact that we had to leave the room at
6 pm. :-( :-( :-( Perhaps this explains, in part, why the discussions in the
breaks, and even in the dark, loud pubs afterwards, stayed on topic. I can
remember almost no smalltalk whatsoever.
        Perhaps the lack of time contributed to the fact that almost no
consensus was reached. The disagreements on *Tetrapoda*, *Amphibia*, *Aves*,
*Synapsida* and others persist, as does the quarrel about whether
apomorphy-based definitions should be allowed.
        Needless to say, this also holds for the species problem; some want
to terminate species, others want to keep them: Benoît Dayrat made a good
talk on the method he already uses for species names, namely to take the
specific epithet + author + year, plus, if necessary, a/b/c/..., plus, if
necessary, the page number, plus, if necessary (that case that homonyms were
coined on the same page is extremely rare, but exists), an additional
":1/:2", IIRC. This allows very quick conversion -- something we're
definitely going to need.
        In any case, the rules for species (if they will exist, but most
likely they will) will be published in a separate document and not in the
PhyloCode, and it will be possible to use one without the other.
        Likewise, the dispute about the Pan- convention has not ended.
Probably it will end up as a Recommendation, though.

The implementation of the PhyloCode and the publication of the companion
volume will happen no sooner than January 1, 2006. The companion volume will
not contain chapters by different authors, but will just list the
definitions in some logical order and mention the authors of each single
definition in place.
        The International Society of Phylogenetic Nomenclature (ISPN) was
founded and its officers elected. Unfortunately it is not yet possible to
join, because the membership fees are not yet fixed; they will depend on
whether there will be just a bulletin that will publish the society's
Opinions, or an ordinary peer-reviewed journal that will publish normal
papers, too. Therefore the International Commission of Phylogenetic
Nomenclature (ICPN) does not yet exist. This, in turn, is probably the
reason why only three people, namely Philip Cantino, Jacques Gauthier and
Kevin de Queiroz (probably not in this order, I don't remember), are the
designated editors of the companion volume.
        The next meeting will probably, but by no means certainly, take
place in North America in two years.

Oh, er... yeah. My own talks rolled off surprisingly well. I even got
favorable reactions to my 15-minute talk (the idea of giving wastebasket
names potentially self-destructive definitions): one well-known botanist
thought about giving Gymnospermae such a definition, another suggested
instead to make an official list of rejected names. My 5-minute talk (the
proposal to give *Aves* a stem-based definition) was also received better
than I had expected, but naturally got less discussion. Once again I have to
thank HP Jon Wagner, who had brought his laptop, for helping me to actually
bring it down to 5 minutes! I alone was unable to cut it to less than 8 or 7
minutes. :-)

I think there's no embargo. So feel free to ask more! I wanted to keep this
e-mail short.