ATBI/SCIENCE revisited

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Jul 9 13:30:02 CDT 1997

Last mid-May, we held a discussion on the SCIENCE article reporting
on the All-Taxa-Biological-Inventory (ATBI) project. There was
little in the discussion to verify/refute the commentary in the

Now, a letter to the Editor of SCIENCE, 4 July 1997, pgs 18-19,
"Costa Rica All-Taxa Survey", by R. Gamez, T. Lovejoy, R. Solorzano
and D. Janzen, respond to the article.

The letter doesn't go into substantive details (editorial
limitations, or ??), only hinting as to the reasoning for some of
the changes in focus. The authors state that they "hope that the
international scientific community will continue to enthusiastically
support this mutually beneficial initiative."

What continues to linger as a primary question is _what_ (details,
please!) was wrong with the original focus and progress maintained
by the ATBI? The "initiative" that was initially enthusiastically
supported seems not at all to be the restructured initiative, and so
we are left with little explanation and understanding about why the
new initiative deserves equivalent enthusiastic support, or more
critically --why should the systematic/environmental sciences
community, whose technical expertise was mustered in support of the
original focus, now be asked to abandon that focus for another one
that is not clearly explained and justified? Did the scientific
community make a serious social/political/scientific/logistical
error in judgement by supporting the original focus? Or, what?


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