Disappearing taxonomists...

Tony Irwin tony.irwin at BTINTERNET.COM
Mon Feb 3 22:10:52 CST 2003

Christof Stumpf wrote:

> So although not in danger of dying out, taxonmists fast become
> restricted to protected localities such as museums or plant protection
> agencies.

Protected ? Not in the UK for a start, I'm afraid!
More and more museums in Britain are being run as businesses where the
emphasis is on short-term profit (=defrayment of running costs). Long-term
research (which most taxonomy should be) is not regarded as a core function,
and opportunities for curators to do taxonomic research are fewer and fewer.
Most taxonomic research on Diptera in Britain is carried out by private
individuals, either amateurs, or professionals working as amateurs in their
own time. Museums still have a vital role as depositories of collections
(and libraries), but, with a few notable exceptions, they cannot be regarded
as centres of taxonomic research.
The time seems to be rapidly approaching when alpha taxonomy will once again
be practised almost exclusively by ardent amateurs, the professional
taxonomist being just a quirky 20th-century phenomenon. Now a Darwinian view
of ....  :o)

Tony Irwin

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