Disappearing taxonomists...

Christof Stumpf cfstumpf at UNITY.NCSU.EDU
Mon Feb 3 12:43:16 CST 2003

Take a look at the job offerings for systematists at Universities. These are
almost exclusively for molecular systematists nowadays. Nevertheless, these
people are required to teach the basic taxonomic courses. But they don't
have to be specialists, and they are not required to do research in
taxonomy. So although not in danger of dying out, taxonmists fast become
restricted to protected localities such as museums or plant protection
agencies.  The selection pressures from outside are just too big. This is a
positively reinforced process. Soon there may not be enough taxonomists
available to do anything else but molecular taxonomy.
I know this is overstating it a bit. There are young poeple out there that
are willing to do morphological taxonomic research. However, let's face it.
There are not enough jobs to keep them all occupied. They have to
concentrate on molecular systematics in their research in order to get a
decent job. But taxonomic interest may not be enough to do major revision or
even long lists of ids. Universities may find out they are shooting
themselves in the foot, if they keep on hiring like they do. But we will see.

Just my 1 (2, 5, 7) cents worth of opinion.


Christof Stumpf
Postdoctoral Research Associate
North Carolina State University
Dept. of Entomology
Campus Box 7630
Research Annex West A
Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: 919-515-1657
Fax: 919-515-3748
Email: cfstumpf at unity.ncsu.edu

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