[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Stephen Gaimari SGaimari at cdfa.ca.gov
Thu Dec 11 15:53:35 CST 2008

Not only that, but considering the history of GenBank puts things into a little more perspective. As much as I wish it was not so, I'm afraid that taxonomy is in a different order-of-magnitude (by several orders), in terms of the level of support available, even in the best of times. Not support now, but an eye towards longevity of support. In a best case scenario, let's say someone got $1 million from NSF (or some international funding source) for a 5-year grant to start such a thing. Great! But what about when the grant runs out? How many times would such a thing get a renewal? Do you think something like this would become self-sufficient? There is trouble enough in the taxonomic community (with all of it's specimen databases) to insure long-term survival of project-oriented databases. GenBank may be a good model (with much tweaking, agreeing with Laurent's assessment), but I'm just afraid that taxonomy does not (and never will) have the kind of clout that the genetics community does, so guaranteeing, or even assuring, that these electronic-only publications will survive 100 years into the future is wishful thinking. Anyone out there know a Senator? 
Early info from Wikipedia (mostly cut and paste): 
The Los Alamos Sequence Database established in 1979 by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which culminated in 1982 with the creation of the public GenBank funded by NIH, NSF, the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. By 1992, there were 2000 sequences stored. From 1989-1992, responsibility for GenBank was turned over to NCBI (the NationalCenterfor Biotechnology Information). From 1982-2007 the number of bases in GenBank has doubled approximately every 18 months.
>From the NCBI website (mostly cut and paste):
NCBI assumed responsibility for the GenBank DNA sequence database in October 1992.Currently, there are more than 33 million sequences (38 billion bases) stored in GenBank. As for NCBI, the late Senator Claude Pepper recognized the importance of computerized information processing methods for the conduct of biomedical research and sponsored legislation that established the NationalCenterfor Biotechnology Information (NCBI) on November 4, 1988, as a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NLM was chosen for its experience in creating and maintaining biomedical databases, and because as part of NIH, it could establish an intramural research program in computational molecular biology. The collective research components of NIH make up the largest biomedical research facility in the world.
Dr. Stephen D. Gaimari
Program Supervisor (Entomology) &
Co-Curator, California State Collection of Arthropods

Plant Pest Diagnostics Lab
California Department of Food and Agriculture
3294 Meadowview Road
Sacramento, CA 95832-1448, USA

916-262-1131 (tel.)
916-262-1190 (fax)
sgaimari at cdfa.ca.gov 

>>> taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 12/11/2008 1:21 PM >>>
Doug Yanega wrote:
> That leaves my fundamental question unanswered: why can't taxonomists 
> do the same thing, and therefore be paper-free AND free from worry, 
> just like GenBank?

Still, there is an obvious, big difference between GenBank data and 
taxonomic data...
GenBank data are factual, not historical. Yes, these data represent a 
lot of work and a lot of money. But there is (fortunately ;o) no 
Principle of Priority applying to published the cytochrome b sequences 
of Aus bus Smith - and, if they were lost, these sequence could 
theoretically be replicated. What Smith wrote about Aus bus in 17xx 
could not.

L -
Laurent Raty
l.raty at skynet.be 


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