[Taxacom] response to 60 new dragonfly species paper ("Rod thread")

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue Dec 15 10:10:00 CST 2015

Hopefully you also took note of Heads' observation about the absence of
these dragonflies from the region of the cuvette centrale. This observation
may be seen as another benefit of your having highlighted your study so as
to bring it to the attention of a wider research community. In this case
here is an indication that distribution is a function not only of ecology,
but also the ecology of the past with events in the Cretaceous molding the
ancestral distributions that remain evident to this day. So not only do you
have an account of modern diversity, but a diversity that was founded from
the time of the dinosaurs. It will be interesting to see if further
collecting in the cuvette central confirms or alters the present
biogeographic picture presented in your paper.

John Grehan

On Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 4:46 AM, KD Dijkstra <kd.dijkstra at naturalis.nl>

> Dear taxonomic community,
> Many thanks for the responses to our recent publication of 60 new African
> dragonfly species, which Ellinor kindly posted for me. I'm now able to
> react and give some background myself. Our primary purpose was to have the
> names available as quickly as possible, while once more pleading the case
> of the disappearing taxonomic expert. As comments focused on both the
> paper's form (let's call it the "Rod thread") and the media message
> ("Stephen thread"), and a lot of ground was covered, I'll respond to the
> latter in a later email.
> On the personal side, my two co-authors have day jobs and study the insects
> they love in their free hours. I jump from one grant to the next odd job,
> as scientists often have to. The write-up was enabled by a six-month grant,
> half of which I reinvested in applying for new grants. The 60 names were
> needed for our ongoing efforts to get dragonflies applied more in
> freshwater conservation in Africa. Steps so far have been a species-level
> handbook, a complete Red List (probably the first for a tropical insect
> group), and all 127 000 records on GBIF (except for the 60 new species, as
> GBIF needs names first...). In the next months we'll get all 760 species'
> identification, range maps, habitat details and indicator value online and
> give 80 trainees from 20 African countries their first introduction to
> freshwater entomology.
> With three months to describe 60 species*, we opted for a stripped-down
> approach (please read the intro). GenBank and ZooBank are important
> platforms, but if I must chose between more taxonomic admin and getting
> those species assessed for the Red List or worked into a field guide, my
> priorities are clear. So with a "minimalist" approach, we wanted to
> demonstrate how to deal with the urgency. (Mind you, it's still 232 pages
> for 60 species!)
> For example, why upload sequences to GenBank that are already on BOLD?
> Also, if cyber-taxonomy can deliver the integration it promises, necessary
> data can be mined from a well-structured text. Computers can process data,
> but not discover species in the field or coin meaningful names. Indeed, the
> paper was immediately picked up by some helpful cyber-taxonomists to show
> how easily "traditional" rapid naming can be disclosed online: everything
> is now registered on Plazi and ZooBank, and ready for GBIF and Wikidata. We
> even had a small cyber-taxonomic revolution: for the first time unique
> identifier numbers generated in Plazi were accepted in Zoobank, rather than
> the reverse.
> As said, the chosen approach was practical, but also intended to bare the
> challenges to taxonomic expertise today (more on that later). With
> dragonflies we are lucky that interest has actually boomed in the last
> decades, with a steady flow of new field guides. Interest from science and
> conservation is now increasing too, e.g. dragonflies are perhaps the most
> prominent insects in IUCN's red-listing efforts. However, this surge was
> realized largely by "amateurs". Our paper's support too came from this
> community. Not in the form of money, but interest. The choice to publish in
> Odonatologica (also run on private commitment!) was therefore obvious: give
> back to those who care most. So we ensured it would be accessible freely!
> Cheers, KD
> * Both paper and press release state that while 80% of Odonata species may
> be named, perhaps only a fraction of eukaryotes are. So while 60 species at
> once isn't exceptional in the grand scheme of things (e.g. beetles), it is
> for this specific order. 60 species add 1% to the known diversity in
> Odonata, the equivalent in Coleoptera is >3500. It adds 5% to what
> odonatologists think is left to name, which could equate to >25,000 in
> Coleoptera. So perhaps our job was indeed "easy"... ;o)
> Klaas-Douwe 'KD' B. Dijkstra
> Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
> Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
> science.naturalis.nl/dijkstra
> jrsbiodiversity.org/grant/stellenbosch_dragonflies/
> _________________________________________
> Sixty new dragonfly species from Africa:
> Press release: https://goo.gl/KGMsyC
> Info and images: https://goo.gl/vRoJSL
> Full publication: www.osmylus.com/index.php/downloads
> Watch discovery of new species in DR Congo: youtu.be/Arr2k7dwzSU
> Handbook of African Dragonflies:
> http://freshwaterblog.net/2015/06/01/discovering-the-dragonflies-and-damselflies-of-eastern-africa/
> Freshwater Biodiversity and Aquatic Insect Diversification:
> http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/eprint/9UfgQAmBYDwDivSeFBxJ/full/10.1146/annurev-ento-011613-161958
> Consensus classification of dragonflies:
> www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2013/f/zt03703p045.pdf
> Most complete damselfly phylogeny to date:
> onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/syen.12035/pdf
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