[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Feb 19 18:38:35 CST 2012

fleshing out a bit more what I am trying to say, Bob: 
you seem to equate "specialist" with "specialist in the taxonomy of", but there are other kinds of skills/knowledge which don't always coincide with taxonomic specialisation (and, furthermore, many so-called "specialists", eg. a coleopterist, cannot possibly really be a true specialist on such a huge group as Coleoptera, for example)
if I wanted to answer a taxonomic question on Tasmanian millipedes, then you are *the man* to ask, no question ...
if I wanted to answer a nomenclatural question on Botswanan millipedes, I would probably ask an expert in zoological nomenclature, who could well also be a taxonomic specialist on some other group entirely ...
also, the function of a (taxonomic) specialist is to publish original research on their speciality, but biodiversity databases are largely concerned with making sense of what has already been published ...
*some* taxonomists are very bad at this task, since they may not have a very good grasp of zoo. nomenclature, and they may not be able to keep apart published information from their own unpublished data/opinion ...

From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Monday, 20 February 2012 11:54 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Ken Walker wrote:

'Why then are global social science websites such as Project Noah, iNaturalist, iSpot, Mushroom Observer etc so popular, so well used and provide a vehicle for non-specialists to make a contribution to biodiversity and Biosecurity? ... The socialisation of science needs a "Gigantic All-Names All-Species Online Taxonomic Resource (GAAOTR)".'

So one section of the 'we' is citizen scientists making and recording field observations? Excellent. That gives us even more information than we already have about the usual suspects (vertebrates, large and charismatic invertebrates, flowering plants, large fruiting fungi). Is that 'we' going to be interested in upgrading the info concerning the other 90+% of the biota in the GAAOTR?

Stephen Thorpe wrote:

"it is possible to achieve, but the main problem is stopping the proliferation of errors along the acronym food chain ... as I'm sure Bob would agree?... 
as I said in response to something that Chris Thompson said, I don't think that working specialist taxonomists are necessarily the best people to do this, although they should certainly be consulted along the way ..."

Sorry, I don't agree that the main problem in erecting a GAAOTR is stopping the proliferation of errors. It's adding new taxa, something you've pointed out many times on this list. Working specialist taxonomists are currently the people doing this (although that could change in future). The tweaking of what's already known can be done by non-specialists, sure, but when a biodiversity crisis comes up (think of controlling an invasive species) and the GAAOTR doesn't provide links to enough relevant info, it's back to the specialists, who could have been consulted first, to save time.
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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