Disappearing taxonomists...

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Mon Feb 3 12:25:46 CST 2003

Thanks, Donat.

That looks like a list of 150 taxonomists for a group of 11K species.

Which illustrate the problem very well, which is the un-even
distribution of taxonomists (both by taxon and geography). There must be
10K "taxonomists" working on birds (9K or less species).

As for ants, we employ a specialist who works on only a couple of
species (Atta only).  And there are a number of specialists just on
honey bees (about 4-6 species). But what about the other 150K species of
Hymenoptera, say nothing of the estimate 1M more to be named and

So, the problem can be summed up in less taxonomists today than
yesterday and more concentration in glamour taxa (yes, I want to work on
what EO Wilson works on, etc.)

Oh, well ...

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org  web site

>>> agosti <agosti at AMNH.ORG> 02/03/03 11:08AM >>>
Disappearing taxonomists

Here is a list of ant taxonomists - a group with 11K+ species so far -
including all those living and producing ant taxonomic work
directly through the web page), or those few building up extensive web
sites, or students at or close to PhD-level with extensive knowledge
ant taxonomy or working on molecules.

It is an amazing number, and almost all are on email, thus information
can easily be exchanged.


Donat Agosti
Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian

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