[Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Dr. David Campbell amblema at bama.ua.edu
Mon Feb 1 06:48:08 CST 2010

There are also "rogue lumpers", not just splitters, that can cause 
difficulty (Hannibal managed to do both in an article that contemporary 
workers labeled as an unannounced foray into humor by the publishing 
journal, but he had the excuse of a head injury).  The problems build 
on each other, as the rogue lumpers may inaccurately dismiss the names 
made by the splitters (e.g., claiming that names are invalid when they 
are merely poorly described).  I ran across one clear example of 
misrepresentation by selective quotation; ironically, it made the 
lumper look particularly taxonomically incompetent.  The quoted bit of 
the original said that the shell looked very like one species; the 
omitted part said that the anatomy was completely different (but failed 
to say how it was different).  As it turns out, the taxon belongs in a 
different order from where the lumper put it.  

How bad a rogue requires censuring action?  Spurious claims to have 
done research seems to me to be a much more serious problem than merely 
thinking that every specimen is a new taxon.  Likewise, "I can't 
deposit the types in a museum because they're valuable collector's 
items that I will sell" is much more problematic than "they're in the 
museum where anyone can look at them".  

Today, excessive lumping raises serious conservation problems-species 
are dismissed as local variants not worthy of conservation concern.  
Convesely, splitting can promote putting conservation effort into less-
imperiled forms and leave the truly rare with less help.  

One separate aspect of journal registration is promotion of easier 
access.  Probably there are occasional taxonomic papers being published 
in the Journal of Science of Outer Ruritania, but no one knows about 
them.  If word could get out "Send your article in to here and everyone 
in the world can read it", it might help in bringing such work to more 
general attention.  

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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