Les amateurs en taxonomie

W.Wuster w.wuster at BANGOR.AC.UK
Wed Feb 5 09:08:48 CST 2003

Philippe Clerc wrote:

> des organismes. Malheureusement, je dois constater qu'ils existe de très
> nombreux moutons noirs, des amateurs dans le mauvais sens du terme, et ceci
> tout particulièrement en mycologie, dans le cadre de l'étude des
> basidiomycètes: des amateurs, "pseudo-biologistes" et
> "pseudo-taxonomistes", qui n'ayant absolument aucune idée de ce qu'est
> l'idée de variation chez les organismes qu'ils étudient, ou aucune notion
> de biologie des populations, décrivent à tour de bras des dizaines de
> nouveaux taxons.   Et, ici, le commentaire de Hendrik Segers ("professional
> taxonomists will have to again spend years to clean up the mess created by
> some (!) of these ardent amateurs...") prend toute sa dimension. Les futurs
> ou actuels taxonomistes professionnels qui étudient le genre Cortinarius
> ont ou auront du pain sur la planche!!

I would echo the comments of Philippe Clerc and Hendrik Segers. In 
herpetology, there are a number of amateurs who are regularly carrying 
out "revisions" and "describing" new species. While some are competent 
and make significant contributions, others are a serious hindrance, 
through ignorance of basic concepts of systematic biology, or indeed 
malevolence (there are at least two of the latter kind active at the 
moment, who have made a hobby out of describing any populations of 
snakes they know others to be studying as new species, with the avowed 
aim of scooping serious scientific researchers). Criticisms are met with 
comments along the line that "the criticisms that I have received will 
only serve to encourage me to do more of the same".

Part of the problem is of course the fact that just about any printed 
vehicle is available for describing new species the provisions of the 
current code of zoological nomenclature, including any old local herp 
society magazine or self-published newsletter. In the past, attempts to 
reform this openness has been resisted, perhaps because those working 
with the neglected majority of organisms have some difficulty relating 
to the problems experienced by those of us working with "popular" groups.


Wolfgang Wuster

Dr. Wolfgang Wüster  -  Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences    Tel: +44 1248 382301
University of Wales              Fax: +44 1248 371644
Bangor LL57  2UW                 E-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk
Wales, UK                        http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/

    Personal homepage: http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/

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