taxonomy

Hugh Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Fri Jan 29 13:42:22 CST 1999


I think spordic whining, hand-wringing, and 'self-pity' is based on a
clear, everyday reality for many.  Organismal biologists - especially
those not doing 'buzz-word' work - are becoming extinct and
systematic collections are being shunted to the backwaters of many
campuses.

Some - for one reason or another - find themselves in other
situations.  However, the general trends are clear and - like it or
not - we are living in a Darwinian environment that - at this point
in time - is selecting against organismal biologists.  I think its
clear that the production of glossy bruchures does not provide a
selective advantage, although some never tire of the effort.  Lofty
goals - with  no operatonal rationale - are of little value.

What should be standard reading for Botany graduate students is the
history of the Flora of North America of the 1970s.  Had this project
survived and developed, the community of systematic botanists - in
North America at least - would be much better positioned to utilize
the internet as a content-rich promotive device (as opposed to the
glossy brochure).  However, turf battles of the sort that eliminated
this enterprise continue and, as a result, the decline continues.

It think its difficult to "demonstrate that we are a community" when,
in fact, we (systematic biolgists) are not.  This type of discussion
is of interest, in my view, IF it includes ideas that might help deal
with the problem.  Although, if "The Disappearance" was a problem in
1972, things might not be as bad as they seem :-].



On 29 Jan 99 at 12:03, Leonard Krishtalka <krishtalka at UKANS.EDU>
wrote:

> OK.  Let's end this thread of the world not wanting taxonomy and
> taxonomists. First, self-pity won't advance an enterprise.  Second, all the
> evidence is to the contrary -- witness the recent PCAST report (Teaming
> with Life), the Darwin Declaration, and a hundred other government and NGO
> studies recommending millions of dollars for taxonomy, systematics,
> phylogenetics, and the rest of biodiversity science in the short term and
> more in the longer term.
>
> Our goal now should be to form a vibrant, collaborative infrastructure that
> is teaming with systematists, related scientists and information networks
> in order to demonstrate that we are a community that can put such
> appropriations to best use for science and society.
>

Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)
http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/Wilson/homepage.html




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