taxonomy & taxonomists

Peter Schuchert peter.schuchert at MHN.VILLE-GE.CH
Mon Feb 1 14:12:28 CST 1999

I doubt, that the actual number of taxonomist is now actually lower than
100 or 70 years ago. At least for my group, the Hydrozoa this is definitely
the case. Concerning publications on hydrozoan systematics, I made an
investigation (published in Zool. Verh., Leiden) on the
publications per decade. The publication rate (authors per year) is
higher at present than ever before. This trend also evident from the number
of authors active at certain times (compare in your group).
I am sure that this will also be true for many other taxa and that the actual
numbers of systematist today is higher than 1900.

Why otherwise the Zoological Record gets thicker and thicker each year?

What has certainly changed is the attention we get as systematist. While it
was central in the university curricula until the fifties, it has become
or nonexistent today.
Systematics has just been pushed aside by the enormous developments
in other fields, notably general biology.
However, in my experience, the absolute level of interest in systematics
on the student's side has by no means decreased (in terms of interested student
 per  term), but that interest is mostly not fostered because many
universities don't even offer a training in systematics.


Peter Schuchert
Museum d'Histoire Naturelle
Dep. des Invertebres
1 route de Malagnou
case postale 6434
CH-1211 Geneve 6

tel 0041 22 418 64 45
fax 0041 418 63 01

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