[Taxacom] LSID versus names / Rio+20

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Thu Jun 21 06:14:50 CDT 2012

I am sure it is just a coincidence that the Rio+20 (http://unep.org/rio20/ )  conference has not been mentioned in taxacom, even though it is the international conference that covers biodiversity and can  produce internationally binding legislation covering biodiversity. We as taxonomists always thought that our knowledge is at the base of conservation, and thus ought have a great interest in its development.

We also share a dismal record: Biodiverity conservation is in a dismal state and very little has been achieved  during the last 20 years, and most of the progress has been annihilated by new developments, greater global consumption and an explosive development in electronics, the Internet. The document (http://www.uncsd2012.org/content/documents/727THE%20FUTURE%20WE%20WANT%20-%20FINAL%20DOCUMENT.pdf ) our global leaders ought to sign by Friday has been so watered down that there is no real progress in sight. Though biodiversity has been mentioned 27 times in the text there is very litte in it that asks for fostering the tools to measure and monitor biodiversity.

"202. We agree to promote international cooperation, and partnerships, as appropriate, and 
information exchange, and in this context we welcome the United Nations Decade on 
Biodiversity 2011-2020 for the purpose of encouraging active involvement of all stakeholders 
in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as access to and the fair and 
equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, with the vision 
of living in harmony with nature.


204. We take note of the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on 
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and invite an early commencement of its work, in order 
to provide the best available policy-relevant information on biodiversity to assist decision makers
And only in this paragraph there is a implicit mention of data collection on the ground 

"274. We recognize the importance of space-technology-based data, in situ monitoring, and 
reliable geospatial information for sustainable development policy-making, programming and 
project operations. In this context, we note the relevance of global mapping and recognize the 
efforts in developing global environmental observing systems, including by the Eye on Earth 
network and through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. We recognize the 
need to support developing countries in their efforts to collect environmental data."

We could argue that we are in the same dismal state. 20 years passed and we still have neither a database of the known species, nor have we a vision nor a strategy how we can get there. We know, that we need to link names to publications and at the end the referenced specimens. It thus is imperative that we provide this access, and especially in the future, avoid this bottleneck. But we act like the politicians that give in to the pressure from the industry (we have to save and keep happy our publishers), it is not up to us to build the necessary IT infrastructure to be able to provide the necessary services like names mentioned in this thread.

We should feel challenged and change this - in 20 years we should have our acts together!


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Jim Croft
Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 5:50 PM
To: Dr.B.J.Tindall
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] LSID versus names

Absolutely... which is why as a community we invest in things like IPNI, APNI, etc.

But I think there is a risk, if not a problem, in assigning the point of authority to an abstracted list rather the publication.

Having said that, the crystal ball and bat entrails are insisting that time and technology will inevitably take us to a place where 'the list is the thing'. They don't tell me when or how it is going to work, but they are pretty sure it is going to happen.


On Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM, Dr.B.J.Tindall <bti at dsmz.de> wrote:
> Jim,
> Well, if anything is going to be "authoritative" it would have to be 
> the fact that certain nomenclatural and taxonomic events/acts have taken place.
> There is no better way of doing this than to make sure that these 
> acts/events are properly documented. In bacteriology and virology this 
> is via a centralised system. To my knowledge the virologists maintain 
> an authoritative list of names on the ICTV website and there were 
> suggestions that bacteriologists should do the same - the only issue 
> being who pays the bills.
> The only issue that is problematic is when there is an "authoritative" 
> list (which in bacteriology would document new names and new 
> combinations) and other lists surface which are misleading/erroneous 
> and undermine the work of those who try to make sure that the "authoritative lists" are accurate.
> Brian
> Quoting Jim Croft <jim.croft at gmail.com>:
>> This kind of thinking is a big problem and one of the reasons we get 
>> into messes like this. NONE of these databases is authoritative.  
>> They are not mentioned in the Code, they have not legislated priority 
>> and have no official standing in nomenclature or taxonomy at all. 
>> They are at best useful and reliable indices to the literature (with 
>> the type and cited specimens, the real authority), at worst, 
>> incomplete perpetuators of falsehoods.
>> There is no point looking for a single point of truth when there 
>> isn't one. Well ok, it might be core business for religion and 
>> politics. But it is not going to work for nomenclature and taxonomy, 
>> unless we change the Code radically and create one (ducks quickly, to 
>> avoid the ugly reg* word).
>> jim
>> On Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 5:42 PM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
>> wrote:
>>> Plant people are
>>> somewhat better off with IPNI, although one could argue whether we 
>>> should regard IPNI, Tropics, or the Plant List as the definitive authority.
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Jim Croft ~ jim.croft at gmail.com ~ +61-2-62509499 ~ http://about.me/jrc 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.'
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