[Taxacom] decline and fall of taxonomy

Dr. David Campbell amblema at bama.ua.edu
Thu Jun 18 13:06:30 CDT 2009

> The observation "they all look alike to me" is familiar and sort of
> true when you view someone else's group of expertise, but not for
> your own. 

In part, this is simply a matter of knowing what to look at (or even 
merely looking closely), and as such can be conveyed readily to any 
interested online volunteer.  However, in many cases the key feature 
(if not the whole organism) requires high-powered magnification, 
precision dissection, DNA sequencing, or other specialized 
skills/equipment.  While references are increasingly available online, 
access to a good library (with good electronic subscriptions and an 
interlibrary loan office) is still essential in many cases.  Also, in 
many cases, sampling the habitat requires special equipment or travel.  
In order to deal with such cases, someone somewhere has to fund the 
necessary materials and training.  

More fundamentally, good taxonomic work in any moderately to highly 
dvierse group requires spending a lot of time learning the group.  
Whoever spends this time needs to have some way to afford housing, 
food, etc. or else they won't be able to do taxonomy for very long.  

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections Building
Department of Biological Sciences
Biodiversity and Systematics
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345  USA

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