[Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign

bayshark at exemail.com.au bayshark at exemail.com.au
Wed Oct 7 04:03:17 CDT 2015



If this will continue, anybody can create not just new species, but complete
new family using just Photoshop.






-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of
bayshark at exemail.com.au
Sent: Wednesday, 7 October 2015 7:44 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign










I just resigned for the position of editor in ZooKeys for two reasons: by

the recent publication of a description of a new species based on photos

ZooKeys evidently decided for the direction of "bad science and good

publicity" which is the direction I cannot support. In addition, they

recently introduced a new automatic system "bullying" editors, which now

makes editors basically non-paid slaves with very limited decision power. I

simply cannot work for such a journal anymore. Sorry to everybody, and

thanks for years of author-editor cooperation.




My letter to editors is attached below:  




Dear editors,




I was really shocked when I discovered the paper entitled "New species

without dead bodies: a case for photobased descriptions, illustrated by a

striking new species of Marleyimyia Hesse (Diptera, Bombyliidae) from South

Africa" published few days ago in ZooKeys. The paper is exremely dangerous

for several aspects:




(1) It misuses the weak parts of the Code which were originally designed to

keep some very old names valid, which were described in historical

publications mostly in 18th century. In difference to what the authors are

writing in the paper, this Article was not designed to solve the situation

with lost holotypes, but to keep valid the names which were really based

only on illustrations in times when no rules were given as it concerns the

quality of taxonomic descriptions. Using the same Article for today is

really ridiculous attempt to use this Article to cheat the system. Moreover,

note the word "illustration" in the text of the Article (i.e. NOT a





(2) It makes a very dangerous precedence for future generations. Now

everybody may try to describe a new big insect (cetonid beetle, wasp,

butterfly) based just on the photographs. I am sure good entomologists will

not do that, or would at least do that only once all needed characters are

really visible. Unfortunately the entomology is full of crazy individuals

focused only in describing new taxa and producing new names, no need to give

examples as everybody knows some of them. These individuals were difficult

to deal with even until now, basically producing chaos in taxonomy of

particular group and partly causing that taxonomy is often considered as

non-scientific. You now opened a brand new way for these people how to do

even worse work!




(3) In my opinion neither the authors of the above paper, nor the editorial

board is evidently not aware of the reason why voucher specimen (holotype)

is needed when a species is describe. It is not because the author should

have it easy to illustrate all needed characters. It it because only the

specimen itself form a firm base for the name. All taxonomic work,

identification of next specimens found etc. is in fact testing the

hypothesis that the specimens in your hand are conspecific with the

holotype.  To test that hypothesis, you may re-examine the holotype, extract

new characters which were not stated or illustrated in the original

description etc. Testing the hypothesis and providing the way how to falsify

it is what makes taxonomy a science! In case of the new South African

species, nothing of this is possible - nobody will ever be able to test the

hypothesis that the specimens in hand are conspecific with the holotype (and

no other characters will be ever known than those illustrated on the

photos). This basically moves this paper (and taxonomy in general) REALLY

OUT OF SCIENCE. Hence, this is a step backward, not an innovative way as you

present it.   




I appreciate the effort of Pensoft and ZooKeys to try innovative ways of

taxonomic publishing. However, I would expect that you would think about

your steps and decision properly, evaluating the possible risks of such

steps for the future of taxonomy. I did not notice anything like that in

your actions and decisions within last months, including the publication of

the above paper. Editorial board is never consulted in such cases, and if

the editors provide their critique, this is rarely followed. In opposite,

you recently introduced a system of "bullying" the editors. I understand all

these actions in the way that editors are just workers you use FOR FREE (we

are not paid for that), but never as partners with whom problematic things

should be discussed.




To sum up - by publishing the photo-based description of Marleyimyia,

ZooKeys moves into the position of journals trying to break up the good

practices in taxonomy for the sake of publicity. Its not only "the border of

taxonomic malpractice", it is in fact the "border of non-science". I do not

want to provide my time to the journal going in this really dangerous

direction. That is why I am resigning immediatelly from the editorial board

of ZooKeys.




Thanks for understanding!




With best regards












(name) Vratislav Richard Eugene Maria John Baptist


(surname) of Bejšák (read as a Bayshark)-Colloredo-Mansfeld 


website: www.coleoptera.org


address: P.O.Box 3335 , Redfern, NSW 2016



phone : +61 0420602040


alternate email: bayshark at ymail.com (to iPhone)





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