Austrlian Alpha Taxonomy

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Thu Jul 3 07:23:52 CDT 2003

Nice to continue to hear from you, Don, and to know you are still

My (personal) question to you, is IF "For workers in a fauna like the
Australian, such alpha-taxonomy is about all we get to do!" THEN why do
so many Australian taxonomists reject Alpha-taxonomy work?

It seem to me to go back to people like Matthews and continued even to
Ebbe who simply declared it was sufficient to sort the species out in
the ANIC, but there wasn't a need to describe them formally as
Australians knew what they were.

Australia is the only place in the World that I have found that has
refused to publish new species descriptions. That paper you reviewed a
couple of years ago for me and Mary Carver was sent to the Australian
Journal of Entomology and reject because they did not publish new
species descriptions!

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 e-mail  web site

>>> <Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU> 07/02/03 11:15PM >>>
Richard Jensen wrote:
"Taxonomy, as originally defined, included naming and classification.
It seems to me that the methods employed to construct the
are immaterial - constructing classifications is a taxonomic goal"

I agree, but would add specifically the task of recognising new
(and, by default, old ones, too). For workers in a fauna like the
Australian, such alpha-taxonomy is about all we get to do!

Don Colless,
Div of Entomology, CSIRO,
GPO Box 1700,
Canberra. 2601.
Email: don.colless at
Tuz li munz est miens envirun

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