[Taxacom] do you use species descriptions?

"Peter A. Schäfer" Peter.Schafer at univ-montp2.fr
Thu Feb 24 12:44:35 CST 2011

yes I do read species descriptions (of plants) as I try to find out 
which of our specimens (mostly pre-1958) are types. Before that date 
indication of type was not necessary in Botany and most botanists 
-starting with Linnaeus- would not write "type" on any specimen label/sheet.

Best wishes
Peter (MPU)

On 24/02/2011 19:22, Andy Deans wrote:
> I guess a perhaps somewhat loaded follow-up question, related to your response, Fred, would be: How many taxonomists actually read or use original descriptions?
> Most of the species I work on (Hymenoptera: Evaniidae) were described ante-1911, in French and German - languages I struggle to accurately interpret. When I do translate the descriptions they are relatively uninformative or even inaccurate, especially when I can simply borrow the type specimens and observe them directly. So I am now in the habit of largely ignoring the original description, in favor of direct observation and imaging. Several colleagues of mine have similar habits.
> Another colleague, however, spends *hours* reading the original descriptions of his taxon of interest - the species of which were mostly described post-1950.
> Maybe species descriptions have improved over time, but how many of you regularly use descriptions, even "modern" ones, to confirm determinations or otherwise understand the species?
> Just curious. For the record I *strongly* believe that textual descriptions are critical to the taxonomic process. Thanks for the replies so far,
> Andy

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