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

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Mon Sep 19 14:41:04 CDT 2011

>  Yes - perhaps reading beyond the title would help....

Indeed; one of the things that struck me most in reviewing the
barcoding literature was that virtually all of both the pro- and
anti-barcoding papers came to the same conclusions when you actually
got to the discussion and conclusion sections - that it works pretty
well, but not universally, and a holistic approach using all sources
of information is needed.  But you'd never know that from reading
the titles and abstracts, which make it sound like barcoding is
either a catastrophic failure that needs to be utterly destroyed, or
the greatest invention since PCR to which all the world's taxonomic
resources should be devoted (okay, a little exaggerated :).

This line, though, stuck out:
> "It follows that the designation of some percentage or degree of
> divergence as a point below which individuals should be considered
> conspecific is unrealistic (even though many taxonomists have done
> so, in various contexts, for a great many years)."

I assume that by "many taxonomists" they're referring to Paul
Hebert?  True, taxonomists sometimes point to rules of thumb about
the degree of divergence between species in particular groups, but
there has been quite a few papers in the last 10 years demonstrating
exactly that point, that even within closely-related clusters of
species there is no "barcoding gap".


More information about the Taxacom mailing list