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

James Whitfield jwhitfie at life.illinois.edu
Mon Sep 19 15:37:09 CDT 2011

Hi Karl,

I think there IS usually a barcoding gap, but the problem is that it is
group-specific, as Janzen has been saying for years.  Percent formulas are
not where it's at!

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

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