You have to keep in mind that there are really two completely different things going on here. One is the process of determining the rank of the entities in question - i.e. answering the questions "is it a species?" "is it a subspecies? "is it something else?". One appeals to science to answer this question. ++++++++++++++++++++ Hi Gang, I am a cafeteria taxonomiy user; I just choose the items I like and ignore other items. In such non-true-believer spirit I will make a comment about Jim M's sensible advice. One does appeal to science to determine rank. However, there are other criteria that have to do with expertise, understanding of the oranisms in "the wild," and even force of personality. The point is that science helps, but rank (species or subpecies, etc.) is sometimes not illuminated by science. In such cases, other criteria are employed that may not be firmly reproducible or testable. In some ways the problem is a manifestation of "what is a species," a question that has occupied biology for a long time. Many "know a species when they see one," but are unable to articulate a universial definition, and so on for a subspecies. My favorite writing on the subject comes from Charles Darwin, who stayed away from defining a species. He understood that species exist but he could offer not clear definition that fit all situations. Science does not now how different two organisms must be in order to belong to different species, much less different subspecies. But, science is clearly a good starting point and a place that can often provide answers--just not answers for all situations. As special, brilliant, and useful as the ICBN is, it offers no way to know if definitions of a species are correct or not. The ICBN does not police biological validity. Rather, the ICBN provides a clear path for determining if names are correctly created and applied. Lastly, I would point out that "rank" is a human concept. Biology and nature operate on levels that do not include genera or families, etc. Rank works pretty well as a tool to understand diversity, but Nature (being indifferent to our desire to classify) went about her business before ranks were created by humans, and before science was created by humans. So, coming back to names, I conclude that names work pretty much as Jim M. described. Nonetheless, there is a very real distinction between knowing a name for a subspecies, and whether or not such subspecies is "real." Cordially, Joe Conroe TX Hippeastrum hybrids coming into full bloom in the yard.