Splitters and Lumpers

Petra Sierwald sierwald at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Wed Feb 17 11:47:11 CST 1999

I agree with points made by Andreas Gminder regarding the selling of names
and the potential increase in new species. I also fear an enormous increase
of "new species", and (possibly?) institutional pressure on systematists to
"discover" them.  In spider systematics there are frightening examples of
excessive splitting, e.g., with a single author creating over 30 junior
subjective synonyms for a common African nursery-web spider (literature
citation available on request). Other examples are in the tarantulas:
certain authors are describing new species and introduce new genus names in
groups which also contain CITES-listed species, faster than professionals
can revise them, thus supporting a rather questionable pet trade.

Andreas is right: Where are the funds for the revisions? It will take
centuries to clean the problem up.

I am grateful for this discussion, because as an editor of an arachnology
journal I will now pay closest attention to the publication of new species
under such circumstances.  It is here where editors, the reviewers and
scientific societies must protect the integrity of taxonomy and systematics.
The selling of names has the potential to destroy systematics. And with
still too many journals not having proper review procedures in place, this
danger is real.

Petra Sierwald, Adjunct Curator - Zoology, Insects
Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt Rd @ Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605, USA.
Managing Editor - The Journal of Arachnology -
Published by the American Arachnological Society
E-maiL: psierwald at fmnh.org
Phone: (312)922-9410, ext. 841; Fax: (312)663-5397


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