The end of the line for taxonomists - or is it?

Alison Murray AMurray at MUS-NATURE.CA
Tue Jun 29 15:21:57 CDT 2004

An excellent response to Hebert is:
Will, K.W. and D. Rubinoff. 2004. Myth of the molecule: DNA barcodes for
species cnnot replace morphology for identification and classification.
Cladistics, 20:47-55

Alison M. Murray, Ph.D.
Palaeobiology, Research Division
Canadian Museum of Nature
P.O. Box 3443, Station D
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6P4

amurray at

-----Original Message-----
From: Barry Roth [mailto:barry_roth at YAHOO.COM]
Sent: June 29, 2004 2:56 PM
Subject: Re: The end of the line for taxonomists - or is it?

Yes.  Nevertheless, because some end-users of taxonomy are likely to buy
into the scheme (perhaps even eventually writing it in as a requirement for
grants and contracts), we need a strong statement in print concerning its
unreliability:  a cogently stated, not-too-long, article, preferably
multi-authored, in a journal with good "street cred," that we taxonomists
could show our clients when the barcode bugbear arises.  Does anything like
this exist at present?  Even a short bibliography of existing papers that
demonstrate Doug's point (with salient quotes provided) would be helpful.

Barry Roth

Doug Yanega <dyanega at UCR.EDU> wrote:
>A gadget that identifies any species in an instant could transform the
>way we see life on earth p.32"

If this refers to Hebert's harebrained scheme to use the COI gene to
"barcode" all living taxa, taxonomists can ignore it - anyone who works
enough with sequencing knows that COI is unreliable, and also can vary
within even a single species, or even a single population, making COI
completely UNsuitable for taxonomic purposes.

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