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

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Thu Sep 15 21:30:32 CDT 2011


Dear All,
       Although I agree that the Brower crossed the line in more than
one way (naming so many of these new species, and also giving some of
them names that are subtly or even blatantly provocative), I can sort of
see his point (even though he went overboard in making it).    
       It is really too bad that the original 2004 paper (which boldly
claimed 10 species in Costa Rica alone) did not formally name the most
distinctive of those species, such as TRIGON.  They could have given
those species more appropriate names and perhaps have thwarted the
reaction by Brower.  I guess that sort of sounds like blaming the
victim, but in the Internet era, it is probably inviting this kind of
problem if you publish this kind of paper with informal names without at
least formally naming the most distinctive of those proposed species.  
      In other words, if you are going to publish that kind of data, it
is probably best to do so in step-wise fashion, naming the most
distinctive species in the first paper, and then tackling the less
distinctive species in subsequent papers.  Otherwise, someone like
Brower will (rightly or wrongly) often jump on you for procrastination
and even propose some inappropriate names for those taxa.     
      Therefore, such a step-wise approach will maximize your results by
getting your initial  information and the most important of your formal
names published in a timely fashion, as well as fending off critics in
academia (or even uneducated hacks who have no biological credentials at
all).  I've always advocated a middle ground approach, and proposing 10
species and not formally naming any of the most distinctive species in
this species complex (back in 2004) was obviously a mistake.  The times
they are a changing, and you have to change with them.  
      Anyway, as for this particular species complex in Costa Rica, I
suspect that 10 species is too many (counter to both the 2004 paper and
Brower's formally naming all of them).  Maybe about five of them may be
separate species, and therefore both sides of this debate may bear some
responsibility for overexaggeration (claiming species status, either
formally or informally, for at least some of the intraspecific
variation).    
          -----My two cents worth,
                            Ken Kinman






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