[Taxacom] encylopedia of life

Bjarte.Jordal at bio.uib.no Bjarte.Jordal at bio.uib.no
Thu May 10 16:07:19 CDT 2007

I believe those of you most sceptical to the new EoL initiative on web should 
read Schueler's comment a couple times - well said. It wonder if there might be 
a generation gap here: for those familiar with using databases on the internet, 
the EoL is clearly a great achivement, even in its prototype stage. It will 
provide the basis for how we are thinking about and using taxonomic data. It 
will take time to make EoL complete of course. However, once data are in the 
databases and properly curated, these data will be there for ethernity, or 
eventually until the specialist revise the species page. And to turn the knife 
around once more - those who are going to do most of the job with adding and 
curating species data are of course the taxonomists and other competent 
scientists already employed and paid for by government money. This kind of work 
will not necessarily add to your current work on revising taxonomies of your 
pet organisms, but provide an alternative outlet for monographs and similar 
types of publications. In general will publishing on the internet make data 
much more readily available for everyone and the transparency in the 
publication structure allows us to quickly find out who is actively working on 
a taxonomic group. Nothing can compete with the 'all in one place' principle. 
And, I cannot imagine there is anything more important that a taxonomist could 
contribute to society than providing species information to the public. 

Bjarte Jordal (PhD)
Department of Biology
University of Bergen


Quoting "Frederick W. Schueler" <bckcdb at istar.ca>:

> Mary Barkworth wrote:
> > In preparing the grass volumes for FNA, one contributor commented, with
> > some bitterness, that we were prepared to pay illustrators a decent
> > amount - but we were not paying contributors. The myth is that all
> > contributors could develop their treatment as part of their job. This is
> > ... certainly
> > not true for the many excellent taxonomists who work as consultants or
> > at have unrelated jobs that pay the bills and provide sufficient free
> > time they can pursue their love of plants (or other organisms) in their
> > free time. 
> * the problem with systematics is that the benefit it confers is spread 
> so widely that no particular group can fund it out of self-interest. 
> Basic research used to be funded because it was basic, but this is 
> increasingly not the case. Curiously, individuals and governments are 
> willing to talk (at least) seriously about reducing their emissions of 
> greenhouse gases, which has a similarly diffuse benefit, and we should 
> keep this analogy in mind when discussing funding for sytematics.
> fred.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
>             Bishops Mills Natural History Centre
> Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad, Jennifer Helene Schueler
>        RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
>     on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
>       (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at istar.ca> http://pinicola.ca
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