Revolution Respite

Dennis Paulson dpaulson at MIRRORS.UPS.EDU
Mon Oct 7 08:44:08 CDT 1996

Roger Hyam wrote:

>My original question was more along the lines of:
>Is atomising the entirety of biodiversity the best way of reaching
>an understanding of it? Is it possible?
>This is relevant to charting all those areas of the threatened biome
>that we don't understand as much as it is to micro species of Rubus
>here in the Europe.
>Some one give me a yes or no answer!

Sure, why not?  And my answer has nothing to do with principles of systematics.

First question:


I have forgotten the exact wording of your original question, but I recall
"atomisation" as the attempt to discover and describe every taxon, to
follow the branches out to every taxonomic end point.  I think every
species is as interesting as it is unique, and atomising seems to me just
as worthwhile as understanding all the processes that go into the
atomisation (=evolution) of each one.  Just think how wonderful it is that
we can look at the macroflora and macrofauna of the U.K. (and quite a bit
of the micro-) and make definitive statements about biodiversity,
geographic isolation, ecological interactions, and community structure
because we know we are seeing (just about) the entire picture.

Wouldn't it be great to have just as good a picture of Peru and Papua New
Guinea, not to mention Wyoming and Rumania?  I think so.

Second question:


Of course not, at the present rate of habitat destruction.  But the
important aspect of this to me is that we must answer a resounding YES to
the first question to be able to present strong intellectual, as well as
emotional, arguments to the rest of the world against this destruction.

Dennis Paulson, Director                           phone 206-756-3798
Slater Museum of Natural History                 fax 206-756-3352
University of Puget Sound                       e-mail dpaulson at
Tacoma, WA 98416

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