[Taxacom] Why stability?

Weakley, Alan weakley at bio.unc.edu
Thu Apr 30 09:47:25 CDT 2015


Surely the issue is not whether one IDs the species by "recognition", a key, a web-based tool, or whatever, but providing a clear indication of the "taxonomic standard" being applied in the identification (and therefore providing additional and more explicit evidence as to the actual meaning of the name applied, that is not provided by the name itself -- unless it happens to be the holotype, in which case there is no ambiguity).  

The expert who glances at a specimen and says "oh that is Aus Qus"  is implicitly or explicitly applying a taxonomic standard, whether or not (s)he hauls out a book to make the ID.  The thought process is, "I know that is Genus A, my current understanding of the taxonomy within Genus A is that there are 27 species, and that is species 23, to whit:  "Aus Qus".  That "current understanding" is usually based on a particular published work (but may be more complicated, esp. if the expert is the actively working "primary expert" on the group).  The great bulk of IDs made in herbaria, museums, protected area checklists, ecological studies etc. though ARE EXPLICITLY BASED on a particular published and accessible publication, and it would be of great benefit to explicitly state that as disambiguation of the naked name.  A simple, easy, helpful practice.



-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Robin Leech
Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2015 10:18 AM
To: 'Stephen Thorpe'; 'Taxacom List'
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?

Stephen, This is starting to turn into a bun fight.  The specialists I know have hundreds and hundreds of species being able to to be IDed with a mere glance.  They have the literature to confirm that the one with which they have little experience is, or is not, a new species, or is an introduced species or a species far from its known distribution.

If I did not know the families, and many genera of spiders, I could set about to describing a new genus/species or whatever in perfect ignorance and bliss, all the time thinking that I have done a good job.  Many species that pass through my hands are passed on to one or more good buds.  In turn, the feedback is, "Yup, I agree that it is Xus yus." Very occasionally I receive a reply, "Jeez, never seen it before."

The point here is that we all work cooperatively together, otherwise we would have an anarchistic situation.
I will send you an article on Spiders of the Canadian Prairies, pubublished last year, which was a multi-leveled cooperative publication.  The chapter on spiders is one chapter in a set of 4 books on the Arthropods of the Canadian Prairies.

What we don't need or want is someone who does not play well in the sandbox.

Robin

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
Sent: April-29-15 8:27 PM
To: Robin Leech
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Why stability?

Indeed. Was it just me, or was there a definite assumption by some people on the list that IDs are always done using a publication?

--------------------------------------------
On Thu, 30/4/15, Robin Leech <releech at telus.net> wrote:

 Subject: RE: [Taxacom] Why stability?
 To: "'Stephen Thorpe'" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Received: Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 2:24 PM
 
 And, alternatively, much
 of the ID info is in the head of one or two specialists,  and is not yet in the literature. And it may  never be put there. 
 Robin
 
 -----Original Message-----
 From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
 On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
 Sent:
 April-29-15 8:18 PM
 To: Taxacom; JF Mate
 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
 
 I am merely saying that in
 lots of cases (not all cases, but lots), species cannot be  identified from the literature, so there is no publication  to cite for the ID. If there is a suitable publication, and  it was used for the ID, then it may make some sense to cite  it. My point was just that this is only going to be possible some of the time, that's all.
 
 Stephen
 
 
 --------------------------------------------
 On Thu, 30/4/15, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
 wrote:
 
  Subject: Re:
 [Taxacom] Why stability?
  To:
 "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
  Received: Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 1:37 PM
  
  "Hence there is no
  publication to cite for the
 identification."
  
 
 Here is the kernel of
  inaccuracy. I have
 (and I suspect most people in  Taxacom do as well, either  in cellulose or
  digital) a large
 collection
  of things called
  books which are called upo as our external  brain  hard-driveI. No just for Europe or North  America,  poor in species as  they may be, but  for many areas in  the world. There are many groups  without modern keys, I grant you that, but when  keys are available,  citing them  is a useful  for those who will come after. In fact NZ  has  a number of modern keys covering many  Coleoptera  groups (can´t comment  on what I  don´t know). Are you tellng me you don´t use them?
  
  
  Jason
  
  On 30 April 2015 at 03:21,
 
 Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
  wrote:
  > Sorry Jason, but
 I was not
  incorrect! As I said, many
 (perhaps most) species are not  identifiable from the  literature. Most insect IDs (at least  in this country) are  done by somebody directly comparing  specimens to already  identified specimens in collections.
 
 Typically, the only thing published is a useless original  description from the 1800s or something. Hence there is no  publication to cite for the identification.
 
 "Experience" enters the issue because the result  of comparing specimens depends on the experience of the  person doing the comparison, i.e. a newbee will typically  make lots of mistakes.
  >
  > Stephen
  >
  >
 
 --------------------------------------------
  > On Thu, 30/4/15, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
  wrote:
  >
 
 >  Subject:
  Re: [Taxacom] Why
 stability?
  >  To:
 
 "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
  >  Received: Thursday, 30 April, 2015,
 1:15  PM  >  >  Sorry Stephen  but this is  >  incorrect. Everybody´s "experience" is  a  >  combination of actual experience (burning the  > midnight oil comparing  >  own material  against  >  identified specimens in a museum or  advice from  >  colleagues or mentors  that we have internalised  >  and made  our own for  >
 example) and  >  literature. By putting your name on  the  I.D. label and 
>  the year you tell  others  more or less at what  >  stage of  your
experience  >  you where at when  >  you attached the label.
 The  "sec" is to indicate  >  on  >
 which authors you rely on (let´s  face  >  it, nobody  is an expert in every  >  group). For  >  example, in Europe if you work on  scarabs you rely on  >  Baraud and  Balthasar most of the time. In 50  >  years we may have  >  different ones but  it  >  would be helpful to know which one  you owned or  >  used most often or a  that time. As a practical  >  example think of  >  Aphodius fimetarius.
  Since
  >  2001 I write
 "sensu Wilson
  2001" to make it
  >  clear that the
  concept
 I am using acknowledges
  >  the
  specific
  >
 distinctiveness of
  pedellus.
  >
  >  As to
  citing the authority, I
 
 >  see it as
  part of the binomial. It
 makes
  >
  communication
 more accurate.
  >
  >
 Jason
  >
  >  On 30
 April 2015 at 01:15, Stephen
  Thorpe
  >  <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
  >  wrote:
  >  >
 What
  Mary said is, IMHO,
 
 >  somewhat mixed up
  and confused! One
 should cite the authors  >  of the original combination  primarily  for nomenclatural (not  >  taxonomic  reasons). Botany confuses the issue by making  >  combinations a nomenclatural matter.
 
 Zoology treats them
  >  (almost
 entirely)
  as taxonomic. The "reference
 used for
  >  the identification" is
 another
  matter altogether. Most
  >  IDs published
  in
 ecological studies are done by people  >  ("experts"), who, like myself, identify taxa  based  >  more on  experience/memory with relevant collections and  >  familiarity with the local fauna,  rather  than by way of a  >  specific  publication.
 Many species can only be identified by  >  a historical  chain of IDs, hopefully  involving comparision  >  to  the type at  some stage along the way. They cannot be  >  identified from the literature.
 
 >  >
  >  >
 
 Stephen
  >  >
 
 >
  >
  >  >
  >
 
 --------------------------------------------
  >  > On Thu, 30/4/15, Mary Barkworth
  <Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu>
  >  wrote:
  >  >
  >  >  Subject:
 
 >
  Re: [Taxacom] Why stability?
  >  >
  To:
  >  "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>,  >  "Taxacom"
<taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>  >  >  Received: Thursday, 30 April,  2015,  >
 10:51 AM  >  >  >  >  IMO. It  >  is
 not the lack  >  >  of a catchy name that  >  has  prevented the practice of citing  >  >  >  the reference used for  identification in giving a  > scientific  >  >  name but the  insistence  by  >  taxonomists that one should cite  >  >  the  >  original author(s) of the combination  and that this  >  >  provides  accuracy of  interpretation. It  >  was  not until the  >  >  Vienna  Botanical  >  Congress of 2005 (or
  thereabouts) that the
  >
 >  wording
  the botanical code read
 "In
  >
 
 publications,
  >  >  particularly
  those
  >  dealing with
 taxonomy and
  nomenclature,
 
 >  >  it **may** be
  desirable, even
 when no
  >
 
 bibliographic
  >  >  reference to
  the
  >  protologue is
 made, to cite the
  author(s)
  >  >  of the name
 
 concerned ...". Before
  >  that
 it
  read as if
  >
 >  one always had
  to
 
 >  cite the authors - and all journal
 
 and
  >  >  book editors wanted
 the
  works they
  >
 published seen to be
  good
 
 >  >  science so
  >  they
 required citation of the original  authors  >  >  and people that became faculty said it  >  was  necessary too.
  >  >
 
 >  >  So we
  have to change a
 culture. That
  >  is
 
 >  >  always difficult.  I have
 
 been
  >  told I do not understand
  >  >  nomenclature
 
 >  for  arguing that one should cite
 
 the
  >  >  reference used to
  determine the name (a
  >
 flora or some
  such).
 
 >  >  The objections
  >  that I
 have heard are that someone is  simply  >  >  using the name they  were told by someone  >  else or  that  they  >  >  know the plant so  >  well they do not know whether it has  ever  >  >  had  another concept, or  that they are  >  using the  concept  they  >  >  have  >  developed.
  >  >
  One reason I like
 the
  >  >  Symbiota
 
 data entry form is that it
  >
 provides
  for citing the
 
 >  >  reference
  >  used
 (although perhaps it should be
  visible
 by
  >  >  default?) but
  taxonomists have spent
  >
 decades
  convincing
  >
 >  people that, to
  be
 
 >  good science, the original authors
 
 of
  >  >
  >
  scientific names should be cited. We should  not be  >  surprised  >  > if it takes a  similar  >  length of time  to change the practice.
  >  >  Do
  those of you
 that are journal editors
  >
  ask for information
  >
 >  as to
  the
  >
 reference used for an
  identification or for
 the
  >  >
  original
 authors of the combination.
  >
  >  Mary
  >  >
  >  >
  >  >
  >  >
  >  >
  >
 
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