[Taxacom] Why Taxonomy does NOT matter

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Wed May 4 06:51:32 CDT 2011

Dear Fabian

I think your point
5) Taxonomic knowledge is available
Taxonomy is perceived as a public good, as something the states support and
not the project based donors.

I think this is just the reason why taxonomy is not interesting, and you got
it, in my humble view completely wrong:
Taxonomy knowledge is NOT accessible.

Try to identify anything you find in your garden, be it here in Tehran, New
York or Nairobi: You still can't.

And find something more reliable about the species you have: The longer the
less you stand a chance.

Also, there is no simple tool here that allows linking the very basic
information on taxonomy into the big weg of taxonomy:
No link from at Google Earth mark, to a place where you can upload the
respective image, create a list, and print some labels to attach to the
specimen that you added, for example to Flickr or another quasi public site
and thus would have contributed to the knowledge of biodiversity.


-----Original Message-----
From: Fabian Haas [mailto:fhaas at icipe.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2011 6:34 PM
To: Schindel, David; Haeuser, Christoph; Kornelia Rassmann; Richard Smith;
John Mauremootoo; Margaret Kinnaird; junko shimura; Donat Agosti; Miller,
Scott; Elise Tancoigne; Johannes Refisch; Julius Arinaitwe; Ian Gordon;
andrepascalkoch at web.de
Subject: Why Taxonomy does NOT matter

Dear Colleagues & Friends,

in late April, I asked why taxonomy does not matter to many of the donors,
and as it appears, the funding for actual taxonomic work seems to be
dwindling away, still.

I posted an email on Taxacom Mailinglist and could initiate a quite lively
discussion, which I distilled to the attached write up. I will share this
paper with taxacom of course, but before doing so I would like to add value
to it and ask you for your impressions and experiences. How do you see the
arguments I collected? Valid, frequent or rather specific and less
essential? As explained this is a collection of anecdotal evidence, by far
no suvey or statistical sound study. In case of doubt, they are my personal
opinions, and no sense of completeness.

Richard, you will notice that I did not integrate your list so far. 
Actually, it is a quite different list from what I have received. That in
itself is quite interesting!

Your professional backgrounds are quite varied, so I would be happy if you
could comment on specific arguments where you feel competent. One thing I
did not touch, was how we go about it, what can we do against each of the
arguments? Is there a way out, to bring donors closer to

Also, dont pass on this paper, I would like to keep it to a smaller circle
first, before going to a wide public. It is indeed a first draft, and
nothing more than a discussion paper. Lets do discuss!

Thank you so much & Best

Fabian Haas


fhaas at icipe.org, Extension -2052

The African Insect Taxonomy Toolkit AITT http://taxonomy.icipe.org

Dr. Fabian Haas
Insect Taxonomist and ABS Specialist
ICIPE - African Insect Science for Food and Health Duduville Campus,
Kasarani P.O. Box 30772 - 00100 N A I R O B I Kenya

Telephone No. 	+254 (0)20 8632000
Fax No.	+254 (0)20 8632001
Cell Phone	+254 (0)728 132868

This position is supported by CIM, the Centre for International Migration


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