ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Andrew Whittington aew at NMS.AC.UK
Wed May 21 15:17:25 CDT 1997


Murray Fletcher wrote:-

>they need to know how many species
>are present in site A as compared with site B and how many of these are
>shared between the sites. Assuming they are able to validly distinguish
>morphospecies consistently between the sites, they are able to produce
>statistical comparisons of the two sites, based on species compositions,
>that enable them to make management decisions about the sites.


Just my very point.  That's short term.  Sure they can compare site A and
B in their project, but can they compare those with site Q and Z of
somebody else's who found differrent results.  And what will they do when
they find they have hundred's of morpho-species which they want to
compare across many sites and over numerous years - my guess is they wont
be able to do it.  So instead of looking for ways of employing people who
can help put names to specimens, the short cut is once again taken, they
shrug their shoulders, look for the next contract and hope nobody asks
too many questions.  I reckon this is the road to bad science (if it
isn't that already), but I'll conceed that there's is hope where vouchers
are retained.  I don't believe that this is always the case though!

Thomas G. Lammers
>Being able to identify all the stuff around us should be Job One.
>Vertebrate biologists by and large can do that (at least for tetrapods).  We
>botanists and the entomologists are nowhere close.

and

Doug Yanega
>Think of it this way: if faunistic studies do not include money for
>taxonomists, if ecological studies do not include money for taxonomists,
>and if much of the funding for systematics is going to people who do not do
>taxonomy, then WHO is ever going to identify all this material? We are
>losing taxonomists faster than we are hiring them, and if people decide
>"Well, the taxonomy can be done later", then that is ONLY going to make
>matters worse. It's called "Supply and Demand". If no one *DEMANDS*
taxonomists, then we won't have any supply. I can't be the only person here
>who thinks this "do the taxonomy later" mentality is a *very* bad thing.

are right.  I believe that the use of Morpho-species is a practice that the
taxonomic community should stand against, not for our own self
satisfaction of feeling needed, but to avoid the potential chaos that the
practice offers.

Andy Whittington
National Museums of Scotland




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