[Taxacom] methodological plurality

Robert Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Nov 22 14:58:11 CST 2012

Will Kipling:

"> I'm sensing a slow shift in the literature back to an emphasis on
> species biology, in which species relationships are sort of
> interesting but not the really cool things worth studying. If I'm
> right, then 'What method did you use, and why?' is a question we may
> be 'getting over'.

Great, then I can go back to Darlington?s mental analyses of the
Australian fauna and spin the best story ever about carabid beetles and
no one will care. Much easier than wrestling over methods."

I think you may have misunderstood my point. Spinning a story (about relationships and inferred history) seems (to me) to be increasingly less interesting than aiming to discover more about species biology. If that sounds to you like 'exploring character states of the terminals', fine, you're primarily a systematist, and wrestling over methods is worth your time and effort.

An Australian carabidologist might be more interested in looking at formic acid and other chemical defence production, given that carabids here survive in a landscape saturated with ants. Lots of taxonomic, ecological and biogeographical questions to be investigated, and systematics will help the investigations. But maybe not, I suspect, the kind of systematics that obsesses about support values and their meaning.
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

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