[Taxacom] Integrative taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Jul 31 21:20:53 CDT 2010

hmmmm ... this sounds like the first little slide down a very steep slope

effectively, I think this proposal would create two nomenclatural/taxonomic 
systems - one for the molecular taxonomists, and one for the sensible 
taxonomists! :) Such fragmentation is perhaps the first step to total 
disintegration of traditional taxonomy/nomenclature, whereby there aren't any 
species in the world any more, just the outputs of various protocols ...

what's that whirring sound? Must be Linnaeus (and Darwin) spinning in their 
graves ...


From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Sun, 1 August, 2010 2:04:33 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Integrative taxonomy

Stephen, I don't think you're seeing this issue as broadly as do the authors of 
the article. There is an enormous amount of character evidence for lineage 
separation coming out of molecular studies. It's coming out far faster than the 
shrinking taxonomic workforce can deal with it, i.e. can look more closely at 
all the lineage distinctions (molecular and other) and make a solid taxonomic 
case for naming these entities.

What currently happens is that molecular, non-taxonomic papers appear in which 
the authors mutter ominously about 'cryptic species' and leave it at that. The 
authors of the Frontiers in Zoology paper are thinking about ways to integrate 
this information into a broader taxonomic picture. I am absolutely rock-solid 
against describing new species on DNA evidence alone, but I am perfectly happy 
with candidate-species tags for entities with congruent coalescents in a variety 
of genes. These are place-holders pointing to the need for further work.

Keeping track of such things is a trivial bookkeeping exercise. Maybe what's 
needed is a single journal, a la the single journal in which prokaryote taxonomy 
gets published, in which candidate species get published: The Journal of 
Molecular and Possible Taxonomy. After follow-up work by knowledgeable 
taxonomists (see the Ebach and Carvalho article Taxacomers were pointed to), 
candidates could graduate to full species in a mainstream journal.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
03 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570


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