[Taxacom] Taxonomy - crisis, what crisis?
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Oct 5 15:14:17 CDT 2011
I'm not sure what the alleged "asociality" has to do with it, but I am sure that the situation is more complex than simple numbers can do justice (which is also true of biodiversity estimates)
Zootaxa has done much to *increase* the number of publishing taxonomists from countries that traditionally have problems supporting taxonomy.
On the other hand, in the richer countries, it is becoming more and more difficult (if not already near impossible) for a traditional taxonomist to sustain a career. Priorities for funding and employment lie elsewhere, perhaps covertly sold as "taxonomy", but in reality just a mix of cladistics, molecular systematics, phylogeography, etc.
Although the overall number of active taxonomists in the world may be stable or even increasing, traditional taxonomy is perhaps becoming more and more of a "third world activity", and the prospects for a completely documented fauna in N.Z., Australia, or even North America become more remote by the day, and the prospects are even worse for South America, tropical Asia, Africa, etc., because the fauna in these places is probably vastly greater than even the growing numbers of taxonomists in these places could cope with in several thousand years ...
From: Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
To: taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, 6 October 2011 5:37 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Taxonomy - crisis, what crisis?
Hot on the tail of the recent paper son the number of species comes Joppa et al.'s paper in TREE http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2011.07.010 , which concludes:
"Conventional wisdom is highly prejudiced. It suggests that taxonomists were a formerly more numerous people, are in 'crisis', are becoming endangered and are generally asocial. We consider these hypotheses and reject them to varying degrees."
It's an interesting paper. I've written a short blog post on the irony that it will be hard to test their conclusions because the taxonomic data they use isn't freely available, see http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2011/10/taxonomy-crisis-what-crisis.html
Professor of Taxonomy
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Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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