[Taxacom] iSpecies with Wikipedia

Alastair Culham a.culham at reading.ac.uk
Thu Mar 27 12:28:17 CDT 2008

The 2008 Annual Checklist CD ROM of the Catalogue of Life arrived on my desk
today.  It has 1.1 million species "now with LSIDs".  This offers one
consensus classification and is probably the most complete single catalogue.
It acknowledges the data providers very fully, both in the accompanying
booklet and in the database. What is notable is that many of the data come
from providers running their databases on a shoestring budget.  We are back
to the issue of "who pays for the taxonomy to be done?".  At least it is
offering one classification to unspecialised end users, even if it's not a
classification that would be considered ideal by some (many?).


Dr Alastair Culham
Centre for Plant Diversity and Systematics
Plant Science Laboratories
School of Biological Sciences 
The University of Reading 
Whiteknights, Reading,  RG6 6AS U.K.

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Heike Vibrans
Sent: 27 March 2008 15:04
To: B.J.Tindall; TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] iSpecies with Wikipedia

> I just wonder what the ratio is of the figures 
> "knowledgeable users" to "less-knowledgeable 
> users" to "average users who are looking to the 
> web to provide an answer"? Is it 1:1:1, 100:10:1 or
> 1:10:100?

I would rather suspect something like 1:2:1000 or 10
000. I don't think that projects like Wikispecies is
the proper place for airing disagreements and
discussing world views between taxonomists. GBIF is
perhaps a better place for this.

And yes, we do need some sort of a consensus
classification, that doesn't change every year (though
some mechanism for change has to exist, but it should
be conservative). Taxonomy and systematics have a
scientific purpose, but they also have a much more
consequential practical one. As a matter of fact, I
believe that the taxonomic community has an obligation
to provide this, as we can't expect end users to make
these decisions.

Just imagine going to a doctor with a broken arm, and
he starts by listing 112 ways to inmovilize it,
without any willingness to tell you which one would be



Dra. Heike Vibrans Lindemann
Laboratorio de Etnobotánica
Postgrado en Botánica
Campus Montecillo
Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agrícolas
km 35.5 carr. México-Texcoco
56230 Montecillo
Estado de México, Mexico

Tel. +52 (595) 95 20 200 Ext. 1335
Fax. +52 (595) 95 20 247
Correo electrónico: heike at colpos.mx (trabajo), heike_texcoco at yahoo.com.mx

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