ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Andrew Whittington aew at NMS.AC.UK
Tue May 20 14:03:41 CDT 1997

Thomas Lammers wrote...

>As far as I'm concerned, these people are DOING systematics.

No they are not.  They are creating one-off lists of taxa from local
areas, which cannot be crossreferenced with other areas.  The end result
is a jumble of morpho-names, which the rule of nomenclature aim to

>but they are trying to find out What All This Stuff Is,

And yet they have failed in their hurry to get there, becuase they will
not be able in a few years time to tell anybody anything about these
nameless taxa, other than that they are confused by the overwelming
number of morph-species 1 that exist.

However, I do agree with you that perhaps more alpha-taxonomy is
required.  We need to speed it up.  We need to ask ourselves for example
"Do the processes by which we describe new taxa take too long?"; "how can
we reduce this lenght of time, or harness more personnel?".  We also HAVE
to accept that the process is going to take a long time.  250 years has
covered only a small proportion of the taxa - the job is potentially
overwelming, but let's not give up because there is a perception that the
job can be done quicker with good short-term results, but impossible
potential for the long term.

We also, need to ask other scientists why they feel "that we are no
longer automatically required for work which we, as systematists,
would think we would be needed."(Tim Utteridge).  There is also a lot of
truth in what Curtis said "I think we, and other publicly-supported
enterprises, are being held to a much higher and unrealistic standard
than corporations and other businesses."  Businesses can get away with
horrific swindles and let's face it that is just as much public money as
that from which much of our funding is drawn.  Something doesn't add up

Andy Whittington

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