[Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tue Jun 19 02:19:34 CDT 2012

I'm sorry if my comments have come across as "bullying."  

At no point did I say that taxonomy was trivial. My first two papers were on the alpha taxonomy, I'd like to think they weren't trivial (albeit unlikely to set the world alight). Anyone reading the recent literature on delimiting taxa using, say DNA barcodes, will see that there are intellectual challenges in assigning names to nature.

I spend a lot of time trying to make the results of taxonomic work more accessible, through projects like http://biostor.org which extracts articles from BHL (where you can find most cases and opinions of the ICZN, for example, see http://biostor.org/issn/0007-5167 ). I wouldn't spend time doing this if I thought taxonomy was trivial.

If we think taxonomic work is valuable (and I do), surely we want to make it as accessible as possible? My concern is that the results of taxonomic research are often hard to find, especially as one goes back in time. Not only is a lot of the literature inaccessible, but even if we had all the literature available online, changes in taxonomic names can make it difficult to recover all that we know about a taxon.

Obviously we have to accept the past for what it is, and deal with the problem of multiple names. All I'm wondering is whether it makes sense to continue the practice that has contributed to the problem in the first place.



On 19 Jun 2012, at 07:32, Cristian Ruiz Altaba wrote:

> Exactly.
> Taxonomy is like the god Janus (inventor of theatre for ancient Greeks). On one side we cry because there isn't enough money and recognition, but on the other we smile like servants asking for their master's approval. It would make more sense to behave the other way round --i.e., to get into a higher spirit when thinking and speaking about the future of taxonomy, and being very serious about torpedoes shot to the very existence of taxonomy as a science.
> Cristian
> Cristian R. Altaba
> Dpt Philosophy and Social Work, University of the Balearic Islands
> -----taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu escribió: -----
> Para: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> De: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
> Enviado por: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Fecha: 19/06/2012 02:04
> cc: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Asunto: Re: [Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?
> Rod Page wrote, and I wonder if he regretted it after hitting the Send button:
> "Just give me a name and stop mucking around with it."
> This is the view from outside taxonomy of what taxonomists do. We're a service industry. We identify 'species categories' in the natural world which previously didn't have category labels. With that trivial job done, people doing more important work can use labels to identify the categories they looked at in their more important work.
> Have I got that right, Rod? Does that explain the bullying, annoyed tone in your posts?
> -- 
> Dr Robert Mesibov
> Honorary Research Associate
> Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
> School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
> 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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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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