[Taxacom] the decline of taxonomy in N.Z.: a further example

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Feb 25 22:07:08 CST 2010

Hi Ken,
My worry about the Phytophthora is that it is a very high profile species in N.Z., and if the formal naming of species means anything it all, surely it should be higher on the list than most if not all of the (few) species that that have been named over the last couple of years, all of which are pretty "obscure" to say the least. Along with naming comes taxonomic clarification of it in the context of other Phytophthora species. Surely, this needs doing, and if it has been done, then why wouldn't you give it a formal name as a very small additional step? I'm not sure that informal names are "OK", as they lack rigour, are unregulated, and suggest a lack of proper taxonomic investigation.

From: Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Fri, 26 February, 2010 4:23:49 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] the decline of taxonomy in N.Z.: a further example

Hi Stephen,
      Are you complaining that this Phytophthora species has no name at
all, or that it doesn't have a "formal" species name?  I checked NCBI,
and there are well over 100 Phytophthora "species" with informal names
(Phytophthora sp. XXXX), so there are perhaps dozens of other
researchers worldwide with similar concerns with respect to other
putative species.  If this species is invasive to New Zealand, perhaps
it has been named elsewhere.  And if this genus is being oversplit,
perhaps such splitting actually should be put on the backburner compared
to other taxa that need more immediate attention.  As long as it is
named, whether it is an informal or formal name may not make a great
deal of difference.      
      As for having to change your e-mail address, perhaps repeatedly
biting of the hand that feeds you (provides e-mail services) eventually
resulted in the horse finally biting back.  Perhaps you should have been
a little more selective in your criticisms, and getting cut off was
inevitable given the volume of criticism.  There is so much to criticize
out there that you really need to choose your battles carefully or your
complaints will get increasingly ignored across the board.  Quality over
quantity, even when it comes to complaints.
          --------Ken Kinman
Stephen Thorpe wrote:
a further example of the decline of taxonomy in N.Z. today concerns an
undescribed Phytophthora pathogen which is causing a
sudden dieback of our iconic Kauri trees, see
despite all the press coverage, and the fact that everybody now has to
disinfect their boots after visiting kauri forests, nobody will fund the
taxonomy of the Phytophthora to give it an official name! And this
despite the NZ$19m/4 years publicly funded IO2 OBI to document the N.Z.
land biota, from which we have seen rather little output in the last
couple of years! Stephen PS: I have had to change email address after
complaints from Landcare Research that I was criticising them - I would
have thought answering the criticism and proving me wrong would be the
proper response, rather than just trying to stifle the criticism ... 


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