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  Credentials Required for Describing Aroids
From: George Yao <gcyao at mydestiny.net> on 2004.08.21 at 21:55:49(12035)
Hello Aroiders,

What credentials or qualifications are required for someone to validly
describe an aroid species? Is an aroid expert needed? Does he need to have
a proper academic background? A friend is thinking of having a new species
described and wants me to help.

George Yao

From: "Peter Boyce" <peterboyce at myjaring.net> on 2004.08.22 at 13:31:04(12037)
Hi George

There are no formal qualifications needed to describe a new species (or
indeed taxon at any rank).

The most important things in order to publish and have scientifically
accepted a new species name are:

1. A herbarium specimen of the new species, including the inflorescence (the
'Type specimen' - think of it as the benchmark for the new name) must
prepared and deposited in a recognized herbarium

2. The Type specimen and the acronym of the herbarium in which it is
deposited must be cited in the paper.

3. A Latin protologue (a piece of text, written in Latin, stating how the
new species differs from the existing species most similar to it) must
accompany the type description - this is probably the most awkward thing for
untrained botanists, especially since such protologues are traditionally
written in the tricky abalative declension. I'd be happy to write one for
you if you let me have the salient characters for the new species.

4. A suitable epithet must be chosen (Latinized and agreeing in gender with
the genus in which it is being proposed - e.g., neuter Arum must have it's
species neuter too (e.g., Arum italicum not Arum italica) while feminine
Alocasia must have feminine species epithets; Alocasia alba (not album).

5. The description must be published in suitable biological journal, ideally
one that referees such papers - such as Aroideana.

The above are the vital things. There are several other non-vital but still
important things to consider that will make the paper useful to other folks.
Take a look at some of Tom Croat's recent papers in Aroideana to get an idea
of the lay-out and content of papers describing new species.

If it's any help, I'd be very happy to look over the draft mss as, too, I am
sure would other aroid botanists who subscribe to aroid-l.


From: "Alistair Hay" <ajmhay at hotmail.com> on 2004.08.22 at 14:44:37(12038)
Hello George,

Validly naming a new species requires it to be published - preferably in a
botanical journal including, of course, Aroideana.

That process includes the editor having the paper reviewed or 'refereed' by
an expert, so you may as well get an expert to work with you in the first
place to avoid the embarrassment of having the paper rejected!

The key things you need are a) to know all the species that have been
described in the genus before, since the plant concerned may in fact already
have a name, b) to know all the species epithets than have been used in the
genus before (whether or not they correspond to recognised species now)
since the name you choose may have already been used; and c) to have the
experience and honed judgement to be able to assess whether or not the plant
concerned is a variant of an already named species or something new. This
CANNOT be judged from cultivated plants alone: species are concepts applied
to plants in the wild, as opposed to cultivars which are distinct
horticultural entities.

If you have established that the plant you are looking at is an undescribed
species, there are then rules to follow about how to name it validly - key
technical points are a) to designate a Type specimen which is the object to
which the name is permanently attached. This has to be deposited in a
recognised herbarium; and b) to provide a latin diagnosis - a short
description in botanical latin. This is the technical minimum and it is
desirable to do better than that!

My strong advice is to work with the taxonomic expert for the group of
plants concerned. Most will happily jointly publish new species with a non
expert who has been involved in its discovery - provided they are convinced
the thing is new of course!


From: "Julius Boos" <ju-bo at msn.com> on 2004.08.23 at 05:40:56(12039)
>From: "Alistair Hay"
>Reply-To: aroid-l@lists.ncsu.edu
>Subject: Re: [aroid-l] Credentials Required for Describing Aroids
>Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 07:44:37 +1000

Hello George!
How goes the Caladium picturatum??
To add my 'two cents' as an 'aroid layman' to the GOOD advice both Pete and Alistair have given, the most difficult thing that a lay-person will need to do in researching a possible new species of plant, is to locate and read EVERYTHING ever published on the genus that the plant he will be describing as the new species belongs to, and to get to examine at least a paratype specimen of all the species described by all authors that are assigned to that particular genus. This is NOT an easy task for most genera, especially those with many species. Some localized genera with only a few described species which may have been done by only one or a few authors, and whose type/paratypes may be in several herbariums MAY be a bit easier. One does NOT want to describe as being new a plant that has been already described years before by someone else, it does happen but one wants to avoid this! Alistair`s advice!
to have the current expert on the genus involved is GOOD advice, your friend may be granted senior authorship depending on the amount of work/effort he may put into the work involved in describing it, and also depending on WHO the present expert on the genus may be! You can see examples of joint efforts by an expert (Dr. Croat) and students being joint authors in the latest Aroideana.
Good luck,

From: George Yao <gcyao at mydestiny.net> on 2004.08.23 at 09:25:01(12042)
Thank you very much, Peter, Alistair and Julius. I will forward your
advices to my friend and see what he decides to do after he comes back
October from his trip abroad. He did mention having prepared herbarium
specimens, so I'm sure he was serious.

Julius, the Caladium picturatum grew very well initially and was the envy
of my guests whenever they saw it. After a two months trip to the USA, I
came back to find the leaves gone. A few days ago, a small leaf emerged so
it is still alive, to my relieve. I'm still undecided what to do.

George Yao

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