[Taxacom] encyclopedia of life, differential biology

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Mon May 14 09:53:56 CDT 2007

After another moment of actual thought, David, I now see where EoL can
be of enormous value, and in fact be indispensable.

Taxonomy progresses from a simple initial distinguishing of something
that appears "new" to a taxonomist, being described morphologically with
a station or general distribution cited, then progresses as we learn
more though, maybe synonymy, or maybe continued recognition with further
distribution information and biological observations, coupled with
hypotheses of relationship and evolutionary ecology and maybe
developmental characters, and phenology, and essentially the whole
biosystematic system of study.

What we get, ideally, are ultimately species distinguished in real-time
by comparative biology. Or maybe differential evolutionary ecology. This
is what papers in journals about biodiversity emphasize.

If the EoL provided taxonomists with data-mined access to all papers in
all fields that throw light on how particular searched-for species
differ in their biology, then it would be indispensable.

Richard H. Zander 
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Shorthouse, David [mailto:dps1 at ualberta.ca]
> Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 8:57 PM
> To: Richard Zander; Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life
> Richard,
> What would make EoL indispensable for you? If you had your say in its
> architecture, what would you want?
> Sure, money in the coffers equals prestige for a short-sighted Dean.
> be interesting when the $10 PCR device nears production:
> http://medgadget.com/archives/2007/05/10_dna_replicator.html. That
> to
> be a great leveler.
> But what we really need here is to chip away at journal impact
> That
> ultimately is the well from which money springs. If the EoL workbench
> play a role in that somehow, then I will absolutely spend a couple of
> weekends writing species pages or wake-up early a few days every week
> contribute content. Heck, I'll even make it a family affair instead of
> spending $40 on a night at the movies. Wouldn't that activity be a
> closer to replenishing the stock of taxonomists?
> David P. Shorthouse
> ------------------------------------------------------
> Department of Biological Sciences
> CW-403, Biological Sciences Centre
> University of Alberta
> Edmonton, AB   T6G 2E9
> mailto:dps1 at ualberta.ca
> http://canadianarachnology.webhop.net
> http://arachnidforum.webhop.net
> http://www.spiderwebwatch.org
> ------------------------------------------------------
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Richard
> Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 2:51 PM
> To: David Patterson; Donat Agosti; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life
> David Patterson:
> You have taxonomists on the Team! That's wonderful. I am willing to
> however, that you don't have more than 100, much less one per family.
> Unless
> you are not paying them, and the buy-in involves their "spare time" as
> contributed by institution heads on the Team.
> It's not exactly money alone that we taxonomists are grumpy about.
> who
> have jobs already have money. It is how university deans see
> research versus, say, DNA research. One (doing EoL pages) is unfunded,
> other brings in lots of indirect costs.
> The EoL as presently conceived will encourage and accelerate the loss
> taxonomists at our universities. University deans would do well to
> Biodiversity Project Heads because those positions seem well funded.
> "EoL is not a funding agency." It should be.
> R. Zander

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