[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sun Feb 19 18:07:48 CST 2012

Ken, that's twice in one morning you've moved the discussion.

(1) "The socialisation of science needs a "Gigantic All-Names All-Species Online Taxonomic Resource (GAAOTR)".'

This assumes the socialisation of science is A Good Thing, and it certainly is for issues like pest/disease detection. But no one expects citizen scientists to do taxonomy (yet), and a GAAOTR harvests the work of taxonomic specialists and uses it to frame a structure within or from which other bits and pieces of information can be found. The 'rate-limiting step' in the implementation of a GAAOTR is taxonomic work and publication. The recent attempts at a GAAOTR build on the proverbial 250 years of past taxonomic effort. That's a big lift provided at zero cost. What happens next, besides the drip feed of input data about already known and easily recognised species?

(2) "It wasn't the scientists "who could have been consulted first, to save time" that found either of these species, it was concern citizens and farmers."

This is misleading. Detecting a possible problem is not the same as confirming that a problem exists or knowing what to do next. If you asked me how often I've been shown a terrestrial invertebrate, told by the non-specialist finder 'I've never seen this before, is it a new species?', and then confirmed by me as a new species, the answer is zero. Concerned citizens and farmers are good at both false and true positives, and hopeless at both false and true negatives.

The question you're avoiding is whether a GAAOTR can help concerned citizens and farmers help specialists, or whether that job is better done 'by taxonomically limited or geographically limited resources which have been compiled by specialists'.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

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