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

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tue Jun 19 04:16:52 CDT 2012

"The man has admitted he not only has a tea habit, but is also into divination. A lost cause."


OK, a bit of hyperbole on my part. The kind of thing I had in mind was a biologist saying "I made these observations on species x (citing paper on that species)" with no other evidence (e.g., a specimen, a sequence, a determination by a taxonomist). If I have something more concrete (e.g., a voucher) then, for example, I could say "I've sequenced this specimen and it's not that species at all", or "a specialist in the group has subsequently published on that specimen and it's a different species." Plenty of scope for a taxonomist to eyeball the specimen and say "that's obviously Aus xus".

I regard taxonomic names as essentially tags on sets of things (e.g., specimens, observations), and given the rate at which observations are being generated we will have lots of data not attached not to a name but to a specimen. Thats where I was going with this.

I wasn't dismissing what taxonomists do as merely issuing "vague assertions." I spent a couple of years as an undergraduate and Masters student obsessing over whether New Zealand had just one species of peacrab, or whether the populations found in horse mussels were a second, new species. Allozyme electrophoresis, morphometrics, larval development, plankton sampling, comparative parasitology, type specimens from Paris - yep, two species. I  get that this requires work.



On 19 Jun 2012, at 09:57, Bob Mesibov wrote:

> Rod Page wrote:
> "Ironically, if you read the tea leaves the way I do, we are moving to a biodiversity science without names, where specimens will be the unit of choice, and taxa will be computational inferences, not vague assertions supported by a citation at best. But that's another story..."
> Working taxonomists on this list please note: no point in spluttering and looking aghast at the phrase 'vague assertions', or picturing a lab where you acquire and feed lots of data into an inference machine that gives you the same answer you eyeballed in a fraction of the time, but without a name. The man has admitted he not only has a tea habit, but is also into divination. A lost cause.
> -- 
> 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

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
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792
Skype: rdmpage
AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

More information about the Taxacom mailing list