ARE STANDARD NAMES LISTS TAXONOMIC STRAIGHTJACKETS?

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Abstract

Standard names lists of the North American herpetofauna have been published since 1882, with the newest list published in 2008. The most recent list was criticized by Pauly et al. in this issue's Points of View forum. Specifically, Pauly et al. question the function and review process of such a list, the stability of scientific names, and the authority of the list, with an unfavorable conclusion for those involved in authoring the list. I provide counter arguments to the controversial points raised by Pauly et al. and pose the question: which is a greater impediment to taxonomic freedom of scientific names, imposed taxonomic stability or the nonexistent authority attributed to the list?

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