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Biosystems. 1988;21(3-4):197-202.

"Protistan" nomenclature: analysis and refutation of some potential objections.

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  • 1Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.


The nomenclature used for higher taxonomic categories of protista arose under the influence of the two-kingdom system, and is widely recognized as being evolutionarily misleading. The occurrence and promulgation of multiple, contradictory taxonomic systems have added to the confusion. Recently, we proposed a solution to this problem which involves identifying the largest taxa that are widely recognized to be monophyletic, and naming them using a commonly recognizable prefix and the suffix "protista". Thus, nomenclatural prejudice is eliminated, and, by keeping the system informal and thus circumventing the Linnaean system, our system remains flexible in accommodating new data yet should retain a great degree of stability. Here we discuss possible criticisms of our proposal, such as whether the introduction of more terms could lead to further taxonomic and nomenclatural instability, and conclude that our proposal remains a most reasonable solution to the problem of protistan nomenclature.

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