[Taxacom] describing new species

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Tue Dec 18 16:22:18 CST 2012

The power of time and industry, not to mention zeal, allows us
classifiers to create valuable identification manuals for diverse groups
that, say 100 years ago, would be thought impossible. We have vascular
plant floras of China, former USSR, Europe, Australia, North America,
Malesia and elsewhere (some in the making, some done) that are
phenomenal. Will we ever have a compendium of most species of insects?
Sure. Keep the faith. As long as we have retired taxonomists with
nothing else to do . . . And wild-eyed grad students willing to trudge
the jungles for collections.

Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA  
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:
UPS and FedExpr -  MBG, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis 63110 USA

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Peter Rauch
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 4:11 PM
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] describing new species

Is it true that by and large new species (of insects) tend to be rare in
nature and/or in out of the way places ?
(I didn't think that this was close to being true ?)

How would one know whether the specimen in hand was one of the 20 known
species detailed in the Journal key, and not either a new species which
is indistinguishable by the given key, and/or is "the other sex" of a
known species (but not completely known by life form, geographic
distribution, etc) ?

The job of insect discovery, detailing, and understanding hasn't even
begun, were we to ask about the state of our ecological knowledge, our
biodiversity knowledge, whether we need screamingly larger amounts of
resources to make those discoveries, and to have them then become useful
information for managing our Earth.

This is a story not one iota different from what some of us stated in
Taxacom twenty years ago.  So, as Chris pondered, who cares --then or
now ?


At 13:45 12/12/18, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>So we can also ask the question: is general taxonomy/diagnostics
relevant any more? It is true that, by and large, new species tend to be
rare in nature, and/or in out of the way places, and so we should
perhaps be putting due focus on documenting the common species properly
in areas where we live. There is perhaps an assumption that this has all
been done, but of course it hasn't (maybe in the U.K., but certainly not


>On Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 21:30:22 +0000
> Michael Wilson <wilsomichael at gmail.com> wrote:
>...How many places in the world are you
>able to identify 'common' species in many groups without special
>expertise and knowledge of the literature? Would the Journal that
>rejected Chris's paper publish a paper in which a key to say 20 known
>species was given that made life easier for users- or is that not
>considered science now?


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