[iczn-list] Insect patronym auction (>$10,000)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jul 15 07:50:57 CDT 2005

> It was inevitable. It's legitimate, and for charity, but what
> do we do when people start doing this fraudulently, and for
> profit? The slippery slope has begun, and I once again urge
> the ICZN to think hard and fast about setting the limits
> *before* things get out of control.

What's the harm?  I mean really -- what's the harm?  There are a LOT more
species out there in need of names, than there are people willing to fork
over $10K for the privilege.  I suppose there is always the risk that
certain charismatic megafauna (mammals, birds, loch ness monsters, etc.)
might get over-described to appease big-money donors -- but I don't see this
as more than an immeasurable blip lost in the noise of "legitimate"

The professional motivation to name new species (more publications, more
authored names) already exists, and is already substantial -- yet excessive
overdescription doesn't seem to be a leading problem for taxonomy.  A much
bigger problem for taxonomy -- MUCH bigger -- is insufficient funding.

We, as taxonomists, shouldn't really care what the literal name of a species
epithet is, nearly as much as we care that biodiversity gets cataloged (as
long as there is not too much overdescription).

If the slippery slope leads to greater funding for taxonomy without
significant compromise to scientific integrity, then where do I go to get on
the slide?


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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