[Taxacom] encyclopedia of life, differential biology

David Remsen dremsen at gbif.org
Mon May 14 20:35:10 CDT 2007

Hi Richard,

I can imagine how EoL can provide you with data-mined access to all papers
in all fields on a particular taxon.   Can you tell me what you mean by
"how particular searched-for species differ in their biology?"   I'm not
quite clear on what you mean.   What should the data-mining do to throw
light on how species differ?

- David Remsen

> 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
> For FedEx and UPS use:
> Missouri Botanical Garden
> 4344 Shaw Blvd.
> St. Louis, MO 63110
> ******************************
>> -----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.
> It'll
>> be interesting when the $10 PCR device nears production:
>> http://medgadget.com/archives/2007/05/10_dna_replicator.html. That
> ought
>> to
>> be a great leveler.
>> But what we really need here is to chip away at journal impact
> factors.
>> That
>> ultimately is the well from which money springs. If the EoL workbench
> can
>> 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
> to
>> 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
> step
>> 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
> Zander
>> 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
> bet,
>> 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.
> Those
>> who
>> have jobs already have money. It is how university deans see
> biodiversity
>> research versus, say, DNA research. One (doing EoL pages) is unfunded,
> the
>> other brings in lots of indirect costs.
>> The EoL as presently conceived will encourage and accelerate the loss
> of
>> taxonomists at our universities. University deans would do well to
> hire
>> WWW
>> Biodiversity Project Heads because those positions seem well funded.
>> "EoL is not a funding agency." It should be.
>> R. Zander
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