[Taxacom] Species Pages - purpose

Thomas J Simonsen Thomas.simonsen at ualberta.ca
Tue Feb 3 12:04:23 CST 2009

I agree fully with this, and think that both Dallwitz and Barkworth  
are simplifying matters and overlooking the potential of species pages.

If species pages are constructed as an integrated part of systematic  
and taxonomic research, they could well replace the traditional  
diagnostic part of the revision - with hyperlinks in the PDF if we are  
talking about a "classic" paper (hyperlinks would obviously be an  
integrated part of a 100% web based publication). Such pages should  
off course be reviewed along with the rest of the publication. This  
would allow the diagnoses to contain: high res photos of types and  
type labels, and all other specimens that were examined during the  
study, detailed, high res illustrations of dissections and whatever  
else would be considered useful, interactive distribution maps  
(created with Google Earth), links to relevant databases and other web  
resources, down-loadable DNA sequences, and such. It is more work than  
a classical diagnosis, yes. But it is also more useful. By integrating  
the species page in the revision, double work would also be avoided -  
to some extent at least. Many species pages are not up to such a  
standard at the moment (indeed, it is not the goal for a lot of the  
projects running), but it is my feeling that it is the ultimate aim  
for projects like EoL and CATE.

Approached this way, species pages would indeed be useful at several  
levels: identification, public awareness and information, and for  
research. For insects at least, many species pages are already used  
for identification by members of the entomological community.

The insufficient funding for systematics and taxonomy is universal and  
very real. But including progressive species pages in grant proposals,  
will if anything increase the possibility of the project getting funded.


  Quoting murrellze <murrellze at appstate.edu>:

> I disagree with Dallwitz┬┤s portrayal of species pages as "simplified  
> and attractive information about taxa easily available to casual  
> users". If done appropriately, species pages can provide information  
> that can be corrected and/or confirmed by experts and then used by  
> other scientists, students of science, corporations, decision makers  
> and "casual users". The WWW provides us with a way to convey vast  
> amounts of information, but with more than 10 billion websites, it  
> is difficult to know what is "good" information. It is up to the  
> scientific community to provide quality information. This quality  
> information can then be used in various efforts, from conservation  
> to helping inform the direction of future research.
> Zack Murrell
> Mike Dallwitz wrote:
>> In brief, to make simplified and attractive information about taxa  
>> easily available to casual users?
>> Mary Barkworth wrote:
>>> -For taxa that people often ask about - because we get asked  
>>> questions and it is easier to point them to a page with an answer  
>>> - but that kind of page might not be the same page as we would  
>>> make available to colleagues.
>>> -To provide ourselves with easy access to information away from  
>>> our offices.
>>> -Make information to others more cheaply.
>>> -Make highly illustrated information about taxa available at low  
>>> cost and in a place where more people are going to see it than if  
>>> it is published in a journal.
>>> -To show off what we have done.
>>> -Funding sources like it.
>> Mike Dallwitz wrote:
>>> What purpose do species pages serve? In the original posting  
>>> (Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?), Roger Hyam  
>>> suggested that they might be used to confirm identifications, but  
>>> they are clearly not very suitable for that purpose.

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