[Taxacom] biodiversity

Michael Heads michael.heads at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 25 16:04:04 CDT 2011

A colleague pointed out that over-splitting by C.S. Sargent in Crataegus etc. would have bumped up species numbers in the Edwardian era. Here's my reply.
Unfortunately, there have always been splitters and they weren't responsible for the overall trend - the historical peak of taxonomic activity in the Edwardian era in both plants and animals, terrestrial and marine. The same period was also when the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica was produced (perhaps the high point in the history of the genre, with scholars such as T.H. Huxley, Bury, Rutherford etc. - compare that with the drivel in Wikipedia). In my own field, biogeography, the period was also the high point, with people such as C.H. Eigenmann (Indiana University - fish), A.E. Ortmann (Pittsburgh University - crustacea), and K. Andersen (British Museum - bats). There are no equivalent great thinkers in biogeography to-day, just technicians (wonderful technicians), compilers, and list-makers. The Edwardian era did indeed came to a sticky end. Andersen was killed in the meat-grinder of WWI, along with Alain-Fournier and an entire class
 of highly educated young people who would have made the 20th century something very different from what it was.    
Michael Heads    

Wellington, New Zealand.

My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0

More information about the Taxacom mailing list