[Taxacom] article on the decline of taxonomists

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at mobot.org
Thu Sep 9 08:53:45 CDT 2010

I  might prefer to be drip-fed with sherry.

Seriously, we have been complaining about our decline and the fact  
that nobody loves us for a century or so; it does get a bit stale.  I  
have often thought about pulling together the relevant literature;  
maybe somebody in my Hist. Biol. seminar could do it...

On Sep 7, 2010, at 7:18 PM, Bob Mesibov wrote:

> Nice article. It makes the familiar point that a lot of traditional  
> taxonomists are now retired. A few years back there was talk here  
> in Australia of drip-feeding retired taxonomists like me with small  
> Federal grants, to encourage us oldies to stay productive. I  
> suggested a peak body to lobby for this idea, the Federation of  
> Australian Retired Taxonomists, but the acronym...
> The lead-in to the article is about the forensic value of taxonomy.  
> I've only once been approached about 'forensic myriapodology':
> A rice producer got a complaint from a rice repackager/retailer in  
> a city hundreds of km away. A customer in the city had found a  
> shrivelled up centipede in the retailer's package. The rice  
> producer contacted me because it hoped I could show that the  
> centipede had crawled into the rice and died at the city end of the  
> supply chain, not at the producer's.
> Unfortunately for the producer, the centipede - which was still  
> easily identifiable - was a species found at both locations.  
> Population-genetic differences might have helped, but I'm not sure  
> that DNA taxonomy work on centipede mummies, and in any case the  
> producer was only willing to pay AUD$50 for the ID.
> -- 
> 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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