[Taxacom] biodiversity databases

Dr. David Campbell amblema at bama.ua.edu
Tue Feb 9 15:47:46 CST 2010

>From the cynical viewpoint of an unemployed taxonomist, the general 
working model of large online taxonomic projects seems to be:

We will spend lots of money on developing a nice electronic platform so 
that taxonomists can volunteer their time to provide information.  

Taxonomists need funds to obtain/access literature and to study taxa
Taxonomists need to be able to pay their bills, eat, etc.
Taxonomists who are employed generally do not get any recognition 
(particularly in terms of tenure) for volunteering their time to check 

Similar problems exist for many databasing efforts.  Putting 
collections data online is considered an assignment for student 
assistants or museum volunteers.  But unless they know something about 
the taxa in question (and the geography and biogeography), they aren't 
going to be very good at avoiding typos, at deciphering poor or antique 
handwriting, at detecting synonyms, etc.  Then the database gets 
incorporated into larger databases and all the typos become fictional 
taxa with established online presence...  

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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