From Plant Press, Vol. 20, No. 4, October 2017.
The Nomenclature Section of the XIX International Botanical Congress (IBC) was held at University Town, Shenzhen, China, from 17–21 July 2017, during the week prior to the main International Botanical Congress. The Section was attended by 155 participants from 30 countries. The average attendance (based on counts made by Vicki Funk) at any one point was 120-130 people. The event celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first rules for naming, i.e., Alphonse de Candolle’s Lois de la Nomenclature Botanique.
Before the deliberations began on the morning of 17 July, De-Yuan Hong, one of the two Honorary Presidents of the Organizing Committee of the XIX IBC, welcomed the participants on behalf of the IBC. He emphasized that nomenclature is a cornerstone of taxonomy, as well as all of the botanical sciences. The deliberations during the rest of the week were chaired by Sandra Knapp, President of the Nomenclature Section, while expertise on the Code itself was provided by Nicholas Turland, Rapporteur-général, and John Wiersema, Vice Rapporteur and Research Associate in NMNH Department of Botany.
The Botany Department had good representation at the Section meeting with active participation by staff members Laurence Dorr (Chairman), Vicki Funk, Eric Schuettpelz, and Paul Peterson, and by Research Associates Konstantin Romaschenko and Robert Soreng.
In total 397 proposals to amend the Code were submitted for consideration, plus 16 from the floor. This is the largest number presented to any Botanical Congress since the Stockholm Congress of 1950. Most of the decisions were decided by a show of hands, but some required a card vote where attendees voted by placing their card in a either a yes or a no box.
Some of the major decisions accepted were as follows:
- The meeting agreed on a framework for the registration of new names and nomenclatural acts of plants and algae. A new, permanent Registration Committee will recommend on the official recognition of nomenclatural repositories. Registration for algae and plants will be voluntary, at least for the next six years; it cannot become a requirement for valid publication before the next IBC in 2023.
- There is now an expanded Division III on governance of the Code, i.e., how the rules for naming algae, fungi, and plants can be changed. Since the rules were first written, methods for managing and changing the rules have partly depended on memory and records kept in hard-to-find publications. Anyone new to nomenclature would find it very difficult to understand the correct procedures, but now everything will be clearly spelled out in the Code.
- Mycologists use the same rules for naming fungi as do botanists and phycologists for naming plants and algae, but there are some special rules for fungi. The Nomenclature Section in Shenzhen voted to put all the rules that apply solely to the naming of fungi into a dedicated chapter of the Code, and that chapter will in the future be changed and improved by the Nomenclature Session of an International Mycological Congress, which takes place every four years. The next one will be in 2018 in Puerto Rico. The decisions taken at the Fungal Nomenclature Session of an International Mycological Congress relating solely to names of organisms treated as fungi, once accepted by a subsequent plenary session of the same Congress, are binding on the Nomenclature Section convened at the subsequent International Botanical Congress. Such decisions will however be open for any editorial adjustments deemed necessary by the Editorial Committee.
Thanks to the efforts of all involved, we will have a new Shenzhen Code next year! That gives us six years to prepare for the next Nomenclature Section meeting at the IBC in Rio de Janeiro in 2023.
The official “Report of Congress action on nomenclature proposals” can be found in issue 66(5) of Taxon.