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1572 Views 4 Replies Last post: Apr 27, 2012 9:32 AM by JrF RSS
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Apr 26, 2012 3:51 PM


I have been involved in identification of a plant Arenaria montana L.  Whilst searching a book of Spanish wildlife I was surprised to find that the generic name Arenaria is used both in botany and also in ornithology where it is the generic name of the small wading bird Turnstone Arenaria interpres Brisson 1760.

I have been under the impression that generic names were unique to one particular group.  Is this disregarded when considering the different kingdoms of plants and animals?


Could some one enlighten me?



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    Apr 26, 2012 4:32 PM (in response to Tony Child)
    Re: Taxonomy

    you can also have an 'Mya arenaria' which is a Soft Shell Clam - arenaria relates to sand (in latin) but in this case the genus is Mya and the species is M.arenaria.  Whereas in the case of the bird and the plant the genus as you say is arenaria - no idea why though, just thought it interesting!


    Scientific classification
    Species:M. arenaria

    Scientific classification
    Species:A. interpres

    Scientific classification
    (unranked):Core eudicots
    Species:A. montana

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      Apr 26, 2012 5:11 PM (in response to Trenython)
      Re: Taxonomy

      Through a bit of quick research there are other examples e.g. Aotus is the genus of golden peas and of night monkeys, Oenanthe is the genus of wheatears and water dropworts.


      Basically a genus in one kingdom is allowed to bear a scientific name that is in use as a generic name in a kingdom that is governed by a different nomenclature code e.g. Zoological & Botanical, however it is discouraged. Within the same kingdom one generic name can apply to only one genus e.g. the platypus genus - is given to a group of ambrosia beetles not of the platypus (duck billed) which is Ornithorhynchus - simply because the beetle genus was given in 1793 and the platypus in 1799 (so was given a replacement name in 1800).


      Hope that makes sense!

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          Apr 27, 2012 9:32 AM (in response to Tony Child)
          Re: Taxonomy

          Hi Tony,


          I guess most taxonomists are usually only specialist in one field of biology, so confusion doesn't arise too often, especially as the specific name will be different. I know the word arenaria is a common specific name referring to something which grows in or is associated with sand, eg Carex arenaria.

          As for other organisms sharing the same generic name, I once confused my Plant Science lecturer by identifying a plant we were using in a practical as Pieris japonica. He knew Pieris as the generic name for butterflies, the large white, Pieris brassicae; small white, P. rapae and green-veined white, P. napi...  He was most put out that a plant would have the same name as the butterflies and was initially very unwilling to believe me...


          The confusion will arise I suppose if I, as a plant geek, started talking to a bird geek about Oenanthe and mentioned it was commonly found along waterways and could be extremely poisonous... the misunderstanding and outrage that might engender just doesn't bear thinking about!


          I would imagine however that most of the organisms bearing similar generic names were so coined before the ability to double check that someone else hadn't already used that name for, as in the case of Platypus, a small, wood boring beetle when you really wanted it for your newly discovered, really rather oddly wonderful, monotreme!


          Such is life...



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