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

John Noyes j.noyes at nhm.ac.uk
Fri Sep 16 03:38:40 CDT 2011

Well said Jim! I completely agree.

BTW, if you include all of those who work in one way or another with Dan
in Costa Rica then they have described well over 2000, perhaps 3000, new
species from Costa Rica. Properly too!
Having said that it should be remembered that Dan's work recognised 10
species within Astraptes fulgerator from a very small part of Costa Rica
(c110K hectares). This is a very widely distributed species in the New
World (southern USA to northern Argentina). Extrapolating from that and
applying the same standard of recognising species from DNA bar codes
alone how many "species" might we be looking at? Perhaps 1000's. The
mind truly boggles. Thanks goodness that Dan's, at least, had some
supporting morphological characters.


John Noyes
Scientific Associate
Department of Entomology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD 
jsn at nhm.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229
Universal Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about
chalcidoids and more):
-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of James Whitfield
Sent: 15 September 2011 20:50
To: Karl Magnacca
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] very nice opinion article in today's Zootaxa

So the seven years gives license for some non-involved person to jump in
and facetiously described things?  Give me a frigging break!!!

Not to mention that the people working with Janzen have described
at a rate far exceeding that of Brower. Maybe not the thousdand that
been turned up, but hundreds so far.

Get real.


> 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
> =====================
> Karl Magnacca
> Postdoctoral Researcher
> University of Hawaii-Hilo

James B. Whitfield
Department of Entomology
320 Morrill Hall
505 S. Goodwin Avenue
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801


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