Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants

Majority rules, when systematists disagree

Timothy J. Entwisle A B and Peter H. Weston A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Botanic Gardens Trust, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Systematic Botany 18(1) 1-6
Submitted: 3 June 2004  Accepted: 9 September 2004   Published: 29 March 2005


The creation of Australia’s Virtual Herbarium forced the Australian plant systematics community to find a mechanism for deciding between alternative taxonomies. Following a workshop on the Orchidaceae and the publication of some simple draft guidelines, a set of ‘rules of thumb’ are presented here that we believe represent the view of most practising systematists. Not everyone will agree, and we have provided alternative views where possible. We include the need for monophyletic taxa, minimising taxonomic change, understanding that some taxa have strong ‘interest groups’, making it clear that ‘preferred name’ does not necessarily imply ‘best name’ on all criteria, avoiding epithets used in possible congeners, and the concept of ‘majority rules’ when states and territories have differing views.


On 28 March 2003, TJ Entwisle facilitated a workshop (held at Mount Annan Botanic Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust) on behalf of the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria to assist in the preparation of a Consensus Census for Australia’s Virtual Herbarium. We thank Bob Makinson—Botanic Gardens Trust (BGT) — who prepared the notes from that meeting, and to all other participants of the workshop (which included the second author): Judy West, Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra (CPBR); Mark Clements, CPBR; David Jones, CPBR; Steve Hopper, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Perth; Neville Walsh, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne; David Banks, Non-government sector, Sydney; Wayne Harri, Queensland Herbarium; Annette Wilso, Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra; Jim Croft, CPBR; Bob Makinson, BGT. Peter Lavarack provided a written submission to the workshop.


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