[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Wed May 22 12:37:58 CDT 2013


OK, there is no point doing a tit for tat. You earnestly believe that a
hunch, on its own, is science. So you observe a number of snakes belonging
to the same species (in this case L. albertisii) and you shrewdly notice
some differences. Congratulations, that is the first step. Now comes the
tedious, hard work of accumulating observations and analysing them to see
if they support your hunch or not. If they do, great, now you keep on
working to clean it up and write it for publication, with the never ending
iterations of re-editing, reviewers comments, etc. If they don´t you can
choose to gather more data or move on to the next hunch. What you don´t do
write up your hunches and send them out. I grant you some will be good or
maybe even many because you happen to have a good eye, but that is not
taxonomy, not by a long shot. As proof let me compare your original
description of L. hoserae with Schliep´s redescription. This is not an
endorsement on the latter as his data may be spurious, but at least there
is data to chew on:


 *LEIOPYTHON HOSERAE sp. nov.*

*HOLOTYPE: A large male specimen in the American Museum of Natural History
from Wipim (=Wipam), Western District, PNG, Lat: 8° 40’ Long: 142° 55’,
specimen number 107150. The snake has a body length of 6ft 10.5 inches and
a total length of 7ft 11 inches.*

*DIAGNOSIS: This is the species formerly known as the black race of the
White-lipped Python.*

*L. hoserae is separated from L. albertisii by the fact that its dorsal
body colour is usually a greyish metallic black in adults as opposed to a
golden brown colour. L. hoserae also attains a larger size, with this
author having photographed a specimen at Melbourne Zoo of about 2.5 metres,
(also refer to the type specimen above). L. albertisii rarely if ever
attains this size. Live L. hoserae are shown in Hoser (1989), O’Shea (1996)
and Ross and Marzec (1990). The specimens depicted in Hoser (1989) are
derived from the Port Moresby area (Chris Banks, Melbourne Zoo, pers. comm).
*

*There are numerous other characteristics that separate the two species of
Leiopython, including DNA properties. L. hoserae cannot be confused with
any other New Guinea snake. L. hoserae occurs in the southern areas of PNG,
south of the main central range, including the area around Port Moresby,
and adjacent parts of Irian Jaya around Merauke where it is understood to
be relatively uncommon and/or rarely collected. It is uncertain as to how
far west the distribution of this species extends. Nor is it certain if
this distribution is continuous or disjunct. However, notwithstanding the
previous statement about the species around Merauke, this species is like
L. albertisii in that it is usually common where it occurs. L. hoserae is
not as common in captivity as L. albertisii.*

*The species is understood to also occur on Islands just south of New
Guinea in the Torres Strait area, that fall within Australian territory
(refer to Cogger 1996) and other sources. The species also occurs in the
Aru Islands to the south, where it is understood to be reasonably common.*

Vs Schleip´s redescription

*Leiopython hoserae Hoser 2000*

*Figure 6C, D*

*Holotype.—AMNH R-107150, a large male specimen from Wipim, Western
Province, PNG, 2.41 m in length, collected by F. Parker in August 1969.*

*Paratype.—CAS 118910, an adult (sex unknown) specimen from the Laloki
River/Brown River Road, Central District, PNG, collected by F. Parker on 29
August 1967. Diagnosis.—Leiopython hoserae can be distinguished from
Leiopython fredparkeri, Leiopython albertisii, and Leiopython biakensis by
the presence of only one pair of parietals followed by a characteristic
scale pattern of two small scales separated from the median line by an
elongate scale that gets wider posteriorly (see Fig. 2B, 6C). It further
differs from the former species in a lower average number of dorsal midbody
rows (KW-test: x 2 1 5 5.68, P , 0.05), and from the latter two species by
the absence of the whitish postocular spot. Furthermore, Leiopython hoserae
exceeds Leiopython albertisii and Leiopython biakensis in adult and
hatchling body size and is darker in color (Parker, 1982; Barker and
Barker, 1994; O’Shea, 1996). Molecular evidence also supports the
separation of Leiopython hoserae from Leiopython albertisii (genetic
distance of up to 9.3%). It differs from Leiopython bennettorum in the
number of loreals and prefrontals as well as in lower midbody scale row
counts (KW-test: x 2 1 5 8.92, P , 0.01) and in the average number of
postoculars (KW-test: x 2 1 5 7.19, P , 0.01). Leiopython hoserae can be
distinguished from Leiopython huonensis by the absence of the whitish
postocular spot, the characteristic scale arrangement in the parietalregion
(Leiopython huonensis has one pair of parietals followed by small,
irregular scales)and in higher ventral scale counts (KW-test: x215 6.62, P
, 0.05). Leiopython hoserae also occurs in drier and hotter climate
conditions than other taxa of the genus (detailed below)."*


 Can you see the difference? There is data in Schliep´s paper. The
descriptions allow anybody to look at a specimen and have a fair stab. Your
descriptions are just vague. It is not enough that you can tell the
difference, others have to be able to understand what your hypothesis (why
you think this group of specimens is ditinct from all others) is based on.

"No one has to step outside the code to deal with Schleips acts of
taxonomic misconduct.  Instead no one recognizes the taxa and the names are
not used ... end of story! – no threat to stability or the code!"

I can´t understand, based on the paper, what you have against Schliep. Not
only does he redescribe your L. hoserae but does the same for your ssp
bennettii (raising it to full species status, bennettorum). He does
invalidate your ssp barkeri but your diagnosis consists of ...”*It is
separated from L. albertisii albertisii by the mutually exclusive
distribution and by analysis of mitochondrial DNA.” *But you provide no DNA
sequences of any kind to back this assertion. Curiously you claim the same
about Schliep but on the last page there are the Genbank accession codes. I
bothered checking them out and they are what they claim to be. I agree that
such few sequences are barely enough but his paper also has a set of
morphological characters that he bothers to analyze and, although he may be
ultimately wrong, he actually provides the data so others can repeat his
study on it if they are so inclined.

"And worse still if you look at p.20 of the Wuster et al (Kaiser et al)
blog, he says the plan should be copied by others outside herpetology.  The
potential chaos within herpetology will be dwarfed by that outside if the
Wuster et al scheme goes according to plan!

Yes, lets spell out the Wuster plan being executed as we type ... I don’t
like you Jason, so I will tell people to boycott your science-based
taxonomy and code compliant names, then I shall rename them myself or get a
friend to do so.  In ten years time when there is total confusion over
which name should be used and chaos, I shall apply to the ICZN to use their
currently rarely used plenary powers to create more confusion by ignoring
the rule of priority to reverse it, thereby encouraging more taxonomic
vandals like Wuster to try the same caper!

The ICZN commissioners will be run off their feet hearing in the first
instance hundreds of applications annually (instead of the handful at
present), then potentially increasing to many thousands yearly within 20
years!

“Kaiser et al” wasn’t published for mere “comment” – it is war plan against
the rules of zoology being executed by Wuster et al. as seen by his
relentless cross posting and self promotion here and elsewhere.

This is EXACTLY why Wuster et al. must be censured and his war plan
stopped!"

There has been plenty of rivalry in science and taxonomy is no exception.
The question is why doesn´t he like you.

After reading issues 14 and 18 of your self-published soap box I plucked
these quotes to try and explain to you the problem with your modus operandi:

“*...claim that I have engaged in: “harvesting of clades from published
phylogenetic studies for description as new genera or subgenera”. Hence the
central claims of Kaiser et al. that my publications are unscientific, a
term usually associated with such bogeys as “creationism” and “intelligent
design” is shown to be false on his own published evidence! “Harvesting of
clades” is itself at the minimum, a statement I have based my descriptions
on some kind of evidence from somewhere!”*

“*...“Taxonomists are relegated to “redescribing” valid taxa that were
named prematurely in acts of mass naming or in deliberate acts of
intellectual kleptoparasitism” could be equally leveled at the likes of
Gray, Boulenger, Cope, Fitzinger, Peters and others who created hundreds of
new reptile species and genera, thereby depriving others of the right to
stick their names on given taxa when these same taxa were revisited at a
later date.”*

*
*

Taxonomic lego is not science. Getting other people´s work hot off the
press to push half-baked taxonomic changes, even if Code complaint, is at
best raiding. You are not even using it as the kernel for additional work,
you are literally republishing people´s work and slapping your names on top
( did check other articles and there is no other way of describing them).
Mass naming is not science either. There are plenty of classical
mass-namers who left a mess for others to clean decades later. Gumming a
field of taxonomy in your nomenclatorial morass is not science. You might
have a misplaced feeling of accomplishment but you have effectively
highjacked the system for your benefit.  And trust me, until a few days ago
I had no interest whatsoever in herpetology so you can´t accuse me of being
an insider. Many of Kaiser et al´s recommendations may be unworkable but
that doesn´t mean they don´t have reason to resent your
antisocial/unscientific behaviour. So if as a group they choose to ignore
your work and in the process some decent ideas of yours gets tossed to the
side I´m afraid you will be the one to blame.


Best


Jason


On 22 May 2013 11:03, Raymond Hoser Snakeman Snakebusters Reptile Parties <
viper007 at live.com.au> wrote:

>
> Excuse me Jason, but Wuster deserves to be heavily censured for his
> actions which are the greatest threat to the stability of zoological
> nomenclature ever seen in 200 years!
>
> We are not talking about ignoring bad taxonomy, which is something done
> daily and without threat to the code.  If someone renames a given taxon,
> their name is a synonym.  There are millions out there already and the
> world of zoology has not caved in as a result.
>
> At worst Hoser, Wells, etc have produced about 400 more in herpetological
> careers that combined span more than 100 years! More likely they have
> produced just one synonym!
>
> And speaking for Wells for a change, I can say his herpetological career
> has been a stellar one!
>
> Meanwhile Wuster’s best mate and co-author Wulf Schliep wastefully created
> three junior synonyms in 2008 when he INVENTED three Leiopython species (by
> creating junior synonyms of L. albertisi) without a shred of evidence in a
> journal he co-edits, bypassing peer review (again), although he falsely
> claimed DNA evidence (not produced), but again I note his mate O’Shea
> (another co-author of Wuster et al) spilt the beans earlier saying he had
> the DNA ... but of course it didn’t prove Schleip’s argument for three
> “new” species, so he scratched the DNA, not the hypothesis ... which is
> about as unscientific as you can get.
>
> No one has to step outside the code to deal with Schleips acts of
> taxonomic misconduct.  Instead no one recognizes the taxa and the names
> are not used ... end of story! – no threat to stability or the code!
>
> As recently as this month, Wuster posted elsewhere on the web that he
> didn’t like “Hoser” and that the valid taxon group Broghammerus should be
> named by someone, anyone!, so that the “Hoser name” is not used.
>
> Of course if it were one or two names, the world of zoology would perhaps
> survive, but he has in fact published two very different lists (already)
> consisting many hundreds of names and from several authors, including many
> globally respected names (and I’ve excluded the ones alleged not to be
> here), of valid species he wants to be renamed.
>
> And worse still if you look at p.20 of the Wuster et al (Kaiser et al)
> blog, he says the plan should be copied by others outside herpetology.  The
> potential chaos within herpetology will be dwarfed by that outside if the
> Wuster et al scheme goes according to plan!
>
> Yes, lets spell out the Wuster plan being executed as we type ... I don’t
> like you Jason, so I will tell people to boycott your science-based
> taxonomy and code compliant names, then I shall rename them myself or get a
> friend to do so.  In ten years time when there is total confusion over
> which name should be used and chaos, I shall apply to the ICZN to use their
> currently rarely used plenary powers to create more confusion by ignoring
> the rule of priority to reverse it, thereby encouraging more taxonomic
> vandals like Wuster to try the same caper!
>
> The ICZN commissioners will be run off their feet hearing in the first
> instance hundreds of applications annually (instead of the handful at
> present), then potentially increasing to many thousands yearly within 20
> years!
>
> “Kaiser et al” wasn’t published for mere “comment” – it is war plan
> against the rules of zoology being executed by Wuster et al. as seen by his
> relentless cross posting and self promotion here and elsewhere.
>
> This is EXACTLY why Wuster et al. must be censured and his war plan
> stopped!
>
>
>
> Snakebustersâ <http://www.snakebusters.com.au> - Australia's best reptiles
> â
> The only hands-on reptilesâ shows that lets people hold the animalsâ.
> Reptile partiesâ <http://www.reptileparties.com.au>, events, courses
> Phones: 9812 3322
> 0412 777 211
>
>
> > Date: Wed, 22 May 2013 10:31:59 +0200
> > From: aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
> > To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>
> > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology
> >
> > Stephen, lay off Wolfgang for a bit. He is venting in this forum to see
> > what the general feelings are. You will agree that any changes that
> appear
> > in the Code, will be relatively far in the future and rather more
> tempered
> > than what the herp taxonomists´community may want. For Wolfgang et al the
> > Code cannot offer a solution at this point, and it will be limited in any
> > case.
> >
> > Doug has already offered several constructive comments on the topic. Some
> > of his suggestions are worthy of discussion as possible future changes to
> > the Code, which may or may not come to pass depending on feasibility of
> > implementation or even the desire of the rest to implement them. The Code
> > will evolve with the times and with the needs of its users and there is
> > nothing wrong with this. And based on the exchange going on for the last
> > week or so, it is safe to say that the democratic process is healthy and
> > "independents" (retired taxonomists, amateurs like me, etc) will not be
> > squeezed out.
> >
> > The idea of communal shunning as a faster/cheaper/retroactive option than
> > LANs has already been mentioned, and it is probably a better approach
> than
> > broad-stroke legislation (yes, I am backpedalling a bit). If they feel it
> > is appropriate for their work, then as long as it has general support
> from
> > their members I don´t see anything wrong with it. There is a balance
> > between freedom and conformism to a group´s rules.
> >
> > As a trivial comment I would like to point out that although you may be
> > correct in stating that ´..."There is no glory in naming ..."!´, I can´t
> > help but notice that in general, janitorial work does not get the same
> > recognition (or janitors for that matter) as the more "creative" work.
> >
> > Best
> >
> > Jason
> >
> >
> > On 22 May 2013 09:29, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:
> >
> > > [quote]taxonomic decisions in herpetology and their nomenclatural
> > > consequences are acceptable only when supported by a body of evidence
> > > published within the peer-review process[unquote]
> > >
> > > I agree that taxonomic decisions in herpetology are acceptable only
> when
> > > supported by a body of published evidence. I'm not sure that peer
> review
> > > prior to publication adds anything? But more seriously, it is the
> > > "nomenclatural consequences" bit which is highly debatable! If new
> names
> > > are published in accordance with the Code, then they cannot be claimed
> to
> > > be "unacceptable", except that they may be treated as synonyms (i.e.
> > > invalid). This much is already an option. It is however evident that
> you,
> > > Wolfgang, are pushing for such names to be considered unavailable, and
> THAT
> > > is the contentious bit ...
> > >
> > > Stephen
> > >
> > > From: Wolfgang Wuster <w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk>
> > > To: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> > > Sent: Wednesday, 22 May 2013 6:58 PM
> > > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology
> > >
> > >
> > > The Australian Society of Herpetologists AGM minutes containing the
> > > motion passed, together with a list of those present and the outcome of
> > > the vote, are available here :
> > >
> > >
> http://www.australiansocietyofherpetologists.org/docs/ash-minutes-37th-AGM-Feb-2013.docx
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Dr. Wolfgang Wüster - Senior Lecturer
> > > School of Biological Sciences Bangor University
> > > Environment Centre Wales
> > > Bangor LL57 2UW Wales, UK
> > > Tel: +44 1248 382301 Fax: +44 1248 382569
> > > E-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk
> > > http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Rhif Elusen Gofrestredig / Registered Charity No. 1141565
> > >
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> > > hanfonodd yn unig ac nid yw o anghenraid yn cynrychioli barn
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