[Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Wed Aug 13 15:23:35 CDT 2008



> -----Original Message-----
> From: John D. Oswald [mailto:j-oswald at tamu.edu]
> Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 3:32 PM
> To: John Grehan
> Cc: Thompson, Chris; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical
> 
>     I would agree that there are plenty of difficulties inherent in
> making broad biological, environmental, etc. generalizations about
such
> regions. However, such terms, when tied to precise boundaries, can be
> used effectively as convenient labels for chunks of real estate more
> inclusive than 'country'. 

Where desirable that is fine. 

Used in this limited way, the terms can convey
> a precise meaning -- a particular geography -- even if the
justification
> for determining the actual boundaries are, ultimately, somewhat
arbitrary.

An area defined by a precise line is precise, but what the region
biogeographers try to do is make them 'natural' entities. That's where
the problems start.

>     I am aware, also, that there are many different sets of regions
that
> various authors have proposed, and that the boundaries of such zones,
> even those with similar or identical names, are often not the same. 

Which is to be expected. But given their arbitrary nature the
differences do not matter scientifically. 

As
> Chris has observed, however, my question was not about the precise
> boundaries of such zones, nor of their 'reality', nor of their
> predictive power, etc., but rather, specifically, about the name that
> might be most appropriately used for one such region that is very
> commonly recognized -- the area that is frequently referred to as the
> Ethiopian or Afrotropical region (and perhaps under other names as
well).

Given that they are arbitrary entities it does not matter what name one
wishes to use.

John Grehan

> >
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> >> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Thompson, Chris
> >> Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 12:48 PM
> >> To: John D. Oswald; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical
> >>
> >> John:
> >>
> >> The term Afrotropical was coined by the dipterists at the then
British
> >> Museum (Natural History) when they started on their catalogue of
the
> >> Diptera of Afrotropical region.
> >>
> >> Their (Crosskey & White) paper justifying this is in the Journal of
> >> Natural History (1977) 11: 541-544.
> >>
> >> They felt as the Diptera Community continues to feel that
> >>
> > Afro-tropical
> >
> >> is a nice match to Neo-tropical and the older Ethiopian name has
some
> >> bad historical (racial) connotations, etc.
> >>
> >> Now some dipterists are suggesting that we go further and change
the
> >> Australian region into Austro-tropical region.
> >>
> >> Cheers
> >>
> >> F. Christian Thompson
> >> Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
> >> c/o Smithsonian Institution MRC-0169
> >> PO Box 37012
> >> Washington, D. C. 20013-7012
> >> (202) 382-1800 voice
> >> (202) 786-9422 fax
> >> www.diptera.org Diptera Website
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of John D.
> >>
> > Oswald
> >
> >> Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:36 AM
> >> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> Subject: [Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical
> >>
> >> Can anyone provide commentary on the appropriateness, preference,
> >>
> > and/or
> >
> >> subtleties involved in using the term Ethiopian, versus
Afrotropical,
> >>
> > in
> >
> >> referring to the biogeographic faunal region that generally
> >>
> > encompasses
> >
> >> sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the southern/southeastern Arabian
> >> peninsula? Is usage here largely determined by the historical usage
> >> found in the literature of different taxa? Does this usage vary
> >> appreciably based on where one works (e.g., do biologists in Africa
> >>
> > tend
> >
> >> to use one term, while biologists in other areas of the world tend
to
> >> use the other)? Which is the 'better' term, and why? Are there
> >> substantive reasons for using one term over the other? Are the
terms
> >> considered synonymous in general usage, or are there important
> >> subtleties of meaning implicit in each? Is there a concise
discussion
> >>
> > of
> >
> >> these issues in the literature somewhere (citations please...)?
> >>
> >> John Oswald
> >>
> >> --
> >> John D. Oswald
> >> Associate Professor
> >> Department of Entomology
> >> Texas A&M University
> >> College Station, TX  77843-2475
> >> USA
> >>
> >> E-mail: j-oswald at tamu.edu
> >> Phone: (979) 862-3507
> >> More at: http://insects.tamu.edu/people/faculty/oswaldj.cfm
> >>
> >> Lacewing Digital Library: http://lacewing.tamu.edu/
> >> Neuropterida Species of the World:
> >> http://lacewing.tamu.edu/Species-Catalogue/index.html
> >> Bibliography of the Neuropterida:
> >>
> >>
> >
http://entowww.tamu.edu/research/neuropterida/neur_bibliography/botn_sea
> >
> >> rch.html
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Taxacom mailing list
> >> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Taxacom mailing list
> >> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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> >>
> 
> --
> John D. Oswald
> Associate Professor
> Department of Entomology
> Texas A&M University
> College Station, TX  77843-2475
> USA
> 
> E-mail: j-oswald at tamu.edu
> Phone: (979) 862-3507
> More at: http://insects.tamu.edu/people/faculty/oswaldj.cfm
> 
> Lacewing Digital Library: http://lacewing.tamu.edu/
> Neuropterida Species of the World: http://lacewing.tamu.edu/Species-
> Catalogue/index.html
> Bibliography of the Neuropterida:
>
http://entowww.tamu.edu/research/neuropterida/neur_bibliography/botn_sea
rc
> h.html
> 
> 
> 
> 





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