describing new spp in tabular form

Mike Dallwitz miked at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Wed Jan 7 06:49:36 CST 1998

                                                              7 January 1998

> From: Renaud Fortuner
> To: Taxacom

> Mike Dallwitz writes that "The purpose best served by a written
> description is to paint a word picture of a taxon, so that the reader
> can get a feel for the taxon."

> I quite agree with that, but then Lyn Craven, also from CSIRO, says that
> "A better format is to use code, specifically the DELTA coding (and
> preferably a precis of that) with the character list also given in the
> paper."

> I seriously doubt that reading a string of delta codes (even with the
> list of characters available) would give "a feel for the taxon".

By `written' I meant `natural-language'. Lyn's posting preceded mine, and
`better' was in the context of saving space, in comparison with tabular

The publication in hard copy of coded descriptions (which I did not mention
in my posting) provides a concise way to publish fully comparative
descriptions. A brief, natural-language description can be provided with a
full, coded description, as was in fact done in Ev Britton's paper, cited by
Lyn. I think that the full (coded and natural-language descriptions) are
best published in electronic form (see
for some examples). However, publishing full, coded descriptions in hard
copy does address concerns about the long-term availability of electronic

Mike Dallwitz                                  Email md at
CSIRO Division of Entomology                   Fax +61 2 6246 4000
GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia     Phone +61 2 6246 4075

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