[Taxacom] Costello on species again: new paper

Chris Thompson xelaalex at cox.net
Sat Jun 8 09:58:47 CDT 2013


All:

As an older RETIRED taxonomist, I can verify that Jason has hit the mark.

I know of and have vouchers of some 500 new species of flower flies 
(Insecta: Diptera: Syrphidae).

However, today the standards for new species descriptions have greatly 
increased, but FUNDing for taxonomists has greatly DECREASED. So, those 
vouchers sit in the collection (Smithsonian/USNM) undescribed as there is no 
funds to take images of the types and prepare the other now required things. 
[I recently had a reviewer ask why I did not get a DNA barcode, that is, 
submit part of the type (a leg) for analysis, etc.)

Give me just a faction of what these new molecular "systematists" are 
getting in grants, etc., I could easily clear up my back log of species. 
Unfortunately, no one wants to fund simply old fashioned ALPHA taxonomy. So 
the rate of new species descriptions goes down.

And when studies in Ecology and related sciences need species level 
identification, one simply gets "species A; B; C; etc.")

Oh, well ...

Sincerely,

Chris

-----Original Message----- 
From: JF Mate
Sent: Saturday, June 08, 2013 8:52 AM
To: Taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Costello on species again: new paper

They seem to be taking a leaf out of ECON 101 and developing a taxonomic
GDP: GTP or Gross Taxonomic Product. It has worked really well for the
economy so I can imagine all the positive applications for science (akin to
Impact Factor) for tenure, funding, etc.

On a more serious note, I wonder if you can compare output across time the
way they seem to do. Without wanting to stir the proverbial bucket, maybe
taxonomists are (in general) just gathering more data for each description?
There is the issue of tidying-up previous work, incorporating phylogenetic
information into the descriptions (more data gathering plus analysis);
tracking down types, etc. One only needs to look at descriptions from the
60´s to see that you could have fit them in an A5 double spaced, often with
a single, rather crude illustration. Good luck getting that out nowadays
and not be laughed out ;)

Jason




On 8 June 2013 11:44, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:

> Costello, M.J.; Wilson, S.; Houlding, B. 2013: More taxonomists describing
> significantly fewer species per unit effort may indicate that most species
> have been discovered. Systematic biology, doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syt024
>
> This seems to be "all over the place" - as per usual ...
>
> Stephen
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