[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
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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