[Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Thu Sep 15 14:17:40 CDT 2011

On Wed, 14 Sep 2011 James Whitfield wrote:
> The point is here that with Brower's paper BOTH classical taxonomic
> opinion and DNA barcodes were ignored.  The barcodes (limited as
> they may be) actually only backed up what a taxonomist who paid a
> lot of attention to life history and natural history had already
> recognized - that there were likely to be species taxa WITHIN
> Astraptes fulgerator. If it is 10 or not, we cannot perhaps be
> sure yet, but it is surely not 1. BOTH morphology and genetics
> indicate that. Can we not leave the issue to Burns, an experienced
> hesperiid taxonomist, and not to Brower, who has not seriously
> studied these taxa?

Burns has had seven years since the first Astraptes paper was
published, and according to that, these taxa were recognized by
subtle morphological characters and larval host preferences long
before.  The 2004 paper even declares: "Should the 10 species of A.
fulgerator identified in this study be formally described despite
their morphological similarity? Yes."  So if they haven't done so
after this time, when the paper has become cited so often, they've
somewhat abdicated responsibility.  Given that Janzen's group has
continued to publish high-profile papers like this in PNAS touting
the diversity of various groups without actually describing the
species - especially when many of their supposed species fall well
within the usual range of intraspecific variation - I think it's
entirely appropriate to give a message like this to either put up or
shut up.

Also, I don't see the names as being insulting, except possibly for
"favilla" being feminine (not knowing Latin, I don't know if
"favillus" is a valid word).  Overall I didn't see the article as
being vituperative at all, which was somewhat surprising given
Brower's usual style.

Karl Magnacca
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Hawaii-Hilo

More information about the Taxacom mailing list