ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Andrew Whittington aew at NMS.AC.UK
Tue May 20 11:33:12 CDT 1997

Dear Taxacom readers

Comment on Tim Utteridge's message:

>his team wanted to use taxonomic expertise but felt that
>our methods would take too long before he got a species list,

True, it does take time, but:

>so they used morpho-species instead. The systematics can come later was
>their point.

Seems illogical and short-sighted.  How can they ever hope to use their data
comparitively?  Morpho-sp. 1 of one author will most likely be VERY
different to Morpho-sp 1 of the next author.

>but I found it worrying that the systematics can just be leap frogged.

It is worrying, since it precipitates more than just the demise
of the taxonomists.  Sooner or later more information will be required of
the morph-species directories and no-one will have a clue what's going
on!  But these days time is money and you're unlikely to convince them
it's worth waiting for a taxonomist to check out two hundred and fifty
years worth of records.

>This is obviously not the first time this has happened, is it something to
>worry about?. Are there many other example where names, and phylogeny, are
>not used by biologists, but who use morphospecies and code number instead?

I have sometimes heard ecologists talking in these terms, so assume it
happens fairly frequently.  On the other hand I've also heard ecologists
talking strongly in support of taxonomy and systematics.  Maybe we need
to talk more, be seen and heard more and slog along filling the gaps.

I'd like to hear other comments......

Andy Whittington
National Museums of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
DDI: 0131 247 4261
FAX:  0131 220 4819
aew at

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