A new species of tree fern has recently been named after Te Papa botany curator and fern expert Leon Perrie.
The fern, Dicksonia perriei, occurs only in New Caledonia mostly on acidic soils at altitudes above 1000m, in areas of high rainfall. The new species is related to the three other New Caledonia Dicksonia species and to the New Zealand tree ferns whekī (D. squarrosa) and prostrate tree fern (D. lanata).
Dicksonia perriei was described in the scientific journal Phytotaxa and Leon’s observations and photographs from a 2012 fieldtrip to New Caledonia aided its authors, Sarah Noben and Marcus Lehnert, in describing this new species.
Several other Te Papa scientists have had taxa named after them, including mollusc researcher Bruce Marshall, who has over 20 species and 5 genera named in his honour, and bird lice expert Ricardo Palma.
Congratulations Leon on your ‘NY’s honour’. In consulting Wikipedia to find out the origins of Dicksonia, left me wondering… what is the official process for registering new species? How is this done and how does an ever expanding ‘register’ result in updated web pages? For example, when can we expect to see Dicksonia perriei listed on the following page? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicksonia
New scientific names have to be registered for fungi and some other groups, but not for plants. The plant taxonomists have repeatedly rejected central registration of new names (presumably preferring the prevailing anarchy over the confines of centralisation).
Nevertheless, there are some rules that have to be followed before a new plant name will be considered “validly published” by the botanical community. There’s a big rule book around this, but for new species it boils down to:
* the paper publication containing the new name must be distributed to at least two institutions. Peer-reviewed mainstream literature is highly desirable, but not essential. (Electronic publication is also now possible within some tight requirements.)
* there must be a diagnosis (how is it different?) and/or description of the new species, in Latin and/or English. (Note that the diagnosis/description doesn’t have to be accurate or fulsome.)
* a specimen must be designated as the ‘type’ and its whereabouts indicated.
Rather simple and perhaps exposed to abuse, but few people do abuse it.
Although there is no registration process for new plant names, various organisations do track the publication of new names, as they become aware of them (e.g., the International Plant Name Index). I guess Wikipedia will get updated in due course by a wiki editor (I’m not one). I’m interested to see that the Endemia website about New Caledonian plants and animals has already got the new Dicksonia names on their website (http://www.endemia.nc/flore/fiche8040.html); I’ll have to send them some pictures. I put the new names into Te Papa’s database a few days ago, and I’ve just ticked the ‘publish online’ button, so they should appear in Te Papa’s Collections Online tomorrow (http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Taxon.aspx?irn=70497).
Thanks Leon. Appreciate your detailed explanation of the process.
Congratulations, Leon! What a well-deserved honour.
Congratulations Leon! That’s a great start to 2014.
Mick is right. It is a special honour.
Malo Leon, a true botanist of the Pacific….congratulations
That is a well deserved recognition. Thanks for all the fern support we get from Leon.
Congratulations, I think that is really neat.
Infinitely better and more substantial than a New Years honour; for sure! Go Leon.