NATURE to save taxonomy!

Gregory Zolnerowich gzolnero at OZNET.KSU.EDU
Fri Jun 7 12:53:03 CDT 2002

This touches on a major reason why systematics and the expertise of
systematists has been taken for granted for so many years. So often
we've examined or determined taxa for others for free in an effort to
further our knowledge of a group. Society places a monetary value on
everything, from the value of someone shooting basketballs through a
hoop to someone running a corporation to someone identifying little
arthropods. But when no monetary value is assigned to a service such
as identifying little arthropods, or to the the
commodity/knowledge/expertise represented by the systematist, of
course society will place no value on it. We've often been our own
worst enemy.


Greg Z.

>Responding to Eric's "conspiracy theory," when I was just getting started in
>the systematics of several obscure groups of nevertheless ecologically
>important arthropods, I was often approached by ecologists who had collected
>large numbers of specimens they wanted identified.  Since this was a good
>way to see a lot of material and learn a group, I readily agreed.   To my
>dismay, my lists of determinations were often published, along with the
>collection data, as THE ECOLOGY OF ________ OF __________.  Never once was I
>offered a co-authorship of such a paper (though I had done a respectable
>part of the work) and in a few instances, was not even thanked in the
>acknowledgements.   When I began to routinely ask to be coauthor of any
>papers arising from our joint enterprise, the flow of material gradually
>dried up.  This could produce a certain reluctance to share one's expertise
>with others.
>Bill Shear

Dr. Gregory Zolnerowich
Department of Entomology
123 Waters Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-4004

e-mail: gzolnero at
office: 785-532-3799
lab: 785-532-3851

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