[Taxacom] Comprehensive synthesis of biodiversity information The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Sep 30 07:25:04 CDT 2010

With all the extensive commentary I have been able only to scan the content, but even so I noticed reference to the end use - the synthesis of biodiversity information stored in collections or databases. 

Perhaps of interest in this respect was a proposal about two decades back to provide a practical resource for the non-taxonomists in the form of a biodiversity atlas which would not only incorporate the empirical information (taxon and location data) but provide a spatial synthesis (in the form of track and node methodology) so that conservationists and land managers/ecologists could assess any local area in relation to the region as a whole. This would also be at a fraction of existing proposed geographic 'ecological' areas methods.

Unfortunately the only way to get funding was through the 'competitive' government program which allowed the proposal to be reviewed by opponents of the methodology (and in some cases at least, and perhaps all) belonged to competing agencies for those funds). So the reviewers always came up with reasons to oppose funding (more or less denounced the program through personal attacks or asked for the result to be presented in the first place). After trying four times I finally gave up as the 'competitive' program was in reality exclusory.

John Grehan

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:33 PM
To: Bob Mesibov
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...

>How much 'de-esotericising' (sorry) of knowledge of the NZ beetle fauna would 
>satisfy which particular users?

No, no, it isn't about 'de-eroticising' [yes, I know that's wrong, it is a 
joke!], it is about making information, even highly technical information, 
available, and not under the control of a few people to hold it to ransom ...

Once again, you betray your dislike and disinterest for comprehensive syntheses 
of biodiversity information, seemingly being of the opinion that all we need is 
an expert for each and every taxon and all is sweet. I, on the other hand, 
wouldn't be spending most of my life lately contributing to Wikispecies if I 
shared that view. I am arguing only about the best way to achieve the synthesis, 
not whether a synthesis is needed at all ...


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: Thu, 30 September, 2010 2:14:52 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...


So you meant by 'Is taxonomy a closed shop?' that taxonomists are not doing 
enough to make their specialist knowledge widely available? How much is enough? 
How much 'de-esotericising' (sorry) of knowledge of the NZ beetle fauna would 
satisfy which particular users?

The wider public also clearly derives benefits from the work of taxonomists: see 
any of the taxonomy/biodiversity promotions of the last X years for lists and 
case histories. 'a remotely comprehensive or reliable resource on the world's 
biota' is not high on the list of public benefits that taxonomists are aiming 
for, or they would be dropping all their other work to labour for the acronyms. 
Taxonomists deliver benefits more directly in their specialties. They do it by 
adapting what they know to particular problems or queries, and not by stripping 
what they know down to names and name uses to suit gigantic nomenclatural 
databases. Or have I misread you again?
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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