[Taxacom] describing new species

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Dec 18 16:31:49 CST 2012

>>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 ?)
It is comparative, but what I mean is that, in N.Z. at least, most of the common species in accessible places (except perhaps for some taxa) are already named, though likely the name was given to them in the 1800s ... or, if a common species is not named, it is a lower priority than a rare one to name ...
Most of the recently described new species in N.Z. are not commonly collected widespread species, but relatively rare/obscure/restricted ...
Let us look at the new N.Z. species for 2012: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:New_New_Zealand_species_2012
Coleoptera illustrates my point rather well: only 2 n.spp. in 2012, one from the inaccessible Three Kings Islands, and the other from one population in a remote part of Northland ... there are plenty of more common/widespread undescribed beetles, but nobody working on them ...
We lack modern keys to most of the common and widespread species ...


From: Peter Rauch <peterr at berkeley.edu>
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Wednesday, 19 December 2012 11:11 AM
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 here...)


>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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