Species names for sale

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Mon, 17 Sep 2007 12:22:01 PDT
Has anyone considered this for new plant (or bulb) species?

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

Published online: 13 September 2007; | doi:///10.1038/news070910-9

Fish for sale
Non-profits auction species names for conservation.

Geoff Brumfiel

Over the years, philanthropists have lent their names to art galleries, 
schools and hospitals. But in a watershed auction, the world's rich 
will be able to add their names to several new species of fish — all in 
the name of charity.

On Thursday 20 September, an auction to name ten new species of fish is 
being held by the Monaco-based Monaco-Asia Society, a non-profit 
organization devoted to Asian causes and Conservation International, 
based in Arlington, Virginia. The fish are a few of the dozens 
discovered by Conservation International during expeditions to reefs 
off the coast of Indonesia's Papua Province in 2006.

Bidders will arrive from around the world for a gala at Monaco's 
Oceanographic Museum, which sits on a bluff high above the 
Mediterranean Ocean. Prince Albert II will be in attendance, and 
auction house Christie's will oversee the bidding pro-bono.

This isn't the first auction for a species name. For example, in 2005 
an anonymous online bidder won the right to name a new kind of Bolivian 
monkey for a charitable donation of US$650,000. But this is the first 
time that multiple species will be auctioned in a single event, 
according to Monaco-Asia Society president Francesco Bongiovanni.

There's nothing wrong with naming an animal after the rich and famous, 
says Andrew Polaszek, executive secretary at the International 
Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in London. The only technical 
requirements, he says, are that the name must have a generic and 
specific part and be published in a paper or monograph — something that 
Conservation International will presumably do. Species are routinely 
named after famous scientists, and one species of cave beetle is even 
named after Adolf Hitler. He says that "you can essentially name a 
species anything you want".

Bongiovanni says he hopes the gala will raise US$1.2-1.4 million for 
further expeditions and conservation efforts in the region. But is it 
fair to name a species after a wealthy patron, rather than the 
scientist who discovered or described it? Bongiovanni says yes — 
especially because it is all for the greater good of the fish. "At the 
end of the day," he says, "these species need names."

	© 2006 Nature Publishing Group

More information about the pbs mailing list