ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Utteridge Timothy Michael Arthur h9492040 at HKUSUB.HKU.HK
Tue May 20 10:36:36 CDT 1997

The systematic community has to start thinking about why we are 'needed'
for the public and even for the scientific community. I work in a broad
spectrum dept. and get continual, admittedly usually light-hearted,
"harassment" (dead wood etc.). Other scientists are finding that we are no
longer automatically required for work which we, as systematists,
would think we would be needed.

For example, we say we are needed to discover, describe and inventory
species diversity (SA 2000), but I attended a seminar not too long ago by
an entomologist (Roger Kitching I think) conducting surveys of Australian
rainforest sites, his team wanted to use taxonomic expertise but felt that
our methods would take too long before he got a species list, so they used
morpho-species instead. The systematics can come later was their point, I
know this is concerned with a different field (biodiversity assessment for
site evaluation s.str.) but I found it worrying that the systematics can
just be leap frogged.

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?

Tim Utteridge
Dept. of Ecology & Biodiversity
University of Hong Kong

Tel: +852 2964 5769
Fax: +852 2559 5984

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