The Taxasphere, etc.

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Thu Feb 3 17:27:17 CST 1994

>           Greetings! I'm interested in what this community thinks of
>           the ideas of Dr. Dan Janzen, in particular his "Biodiversity:
>           Use it or Lose It!" approach, and his ideas about the role of
>           taxonomists in sustainable development. The best reference I
>           have for his ideas, apart from lecture presentations, is his
>           paper, "Taxonomy: Universal and Essential Infrastructure for
>           Development and Management of Tropical Wildland
>           Biodiversity" in the _Proceedings of the Norway/UNEP Expert
>           Conference on Biodiversity_, Trondheim, Norway, eds. O. T.
>           Sandlund and P. J. Sahei, 1993. The paper describes the
>           notion of "the taxasphere -- a community of international
>           taxonomists" and the use of the Internet in biodiversity
>           programs, as well as much more.
>           Any reaction to Dr. Janzen's ideas? Agreement? Disagreement?
>           Why? Don't know?

For more Janzen thoughts on life, the universe and everything, point
your gopher or world wide web client at the ANBG biodiversity gopher
in the All Taxa Biodiversity directory

     (URL = gopher://

Be prepared to stay there for quite a while - Dan can write more before
breakfast than a normal person can write in a week.  No doubt heaps more
has been written since this interesting workshop.

Dan's approach is interesting - biodiversity has a value that can be
translated into economic terms, and if pushed, people are prepared to
pay to use it.  The challenge is to calculate a truly realistic value
and convince users this is the price they have to pay, and that they can
have only what the ecosystem will tolerate without detriment.  There is
also an ideological position here that a substantial portion of the
benefits or profits from exploiting biodiversity should remain in or
return to the region in which the biodiversity occurs.  It is probably
fair to say that organzations with the ability to exploit biodiversity
will eventually get it anyway, so taxonomists should have a role in
ensuring that they got the right stuff with the right name and in the
process sort out the taxonomy - my gut feeling is that once what is
useful in an organism has been extracted, those with money are not going
to give a damn what the beast is called, so taxonomists have to be there
at the beginning, where they are really needed.

As for the taxasphere, TAXACOM has been here for years, faithfully
serving a bunch of eccentric taxaspherists through the Internet.  The
challenge is to convince mainstream biologists and the bulk of the
biological community that placing information from their collections and
research on the internet for the common good is the one true path to
enlightenment and redemption.  And having done that, to get them to
actually do it.

Jim Croft           [Herbarium CBG]               internet: jrc at
Australian National Botanic Gardens                  voice:  +61-6-2509 490
GPO Box 1777, Canberra, ACT 2601, AUSTRALIA            fax:  +61-6-2509 599
______Biodiversity Directorate, Australian Nature Conservation Agency______

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