[Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Oct 7 17:50:14 CDT 2015

Incidentally, the only possible problems arising from the description of this fly are if there turns out to be more than one externally identical species of such fly, in sympatry, with different internal genitalia and/or DNA. Then, we can't ever know which species was described. However, this is essentially the same problem as with early descriptions by Linnaeus, etc., where types no longer exist. The problem is in principle rather easy to solve with a neotype, though the current Code makes that difficult. At worst, one just has to make a choice of which species was described, and hopefully nobody else will insist on a contrary choice! The Code really needs to try to make potential problems easily solvable, rather then creating problems!


On Thu, 8/10/15, Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign
 To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Thursday, 8 October, 2015, 11:28 AM
 If I might, let me comment on
 a few things:
 (1) this fly is not the first
 animal species described solely from a 
 photograph, nor even the first insect (as far
 as I can tell, that honor 
 goes to Bebearia
 banksi, a nymphalid described in 1998 - with thanks to 
 Cosmin Manci for pointing that out to me), so
 it does not set a 
 precedent; it is simply
 one of a growing list.
 (2) the authors did
 not attempt to conceal the facts of the case, or 
 (for example) refer to a deposited specimen
 which never existed, so the 
 work cannot be
 dismissed as fraudulent in any way.
 (3) if
 you are concerned about people naming new species based on
 limited or potentially fabricated evidence
 even though the Code allows 
 for it, then
 why not submit a letter to the Commission (with a few 
 thousand signatories, preferably) in favor of
 amending the Code in such 
 a way as to help
 prevent what you see as being abusive? For example, 
 establishing a strict set of guidelines for
 public review of taxonomic 
 works, which
 must be met before a name will be considered available 
 under the Code, rather than simply accepting as
 available virtually 
 anything that meets the
 Code's definition of "published"? I and others
 including other Commissioners - have been
 advocating this sort of change 
 for years
 now, and oddly there seems to be little public support for
 such measures. Would you not like to be
 able to cast a vote for or 
 against any
 given proposed new name BEFORE being compelled to recognize
 it? [Case in point: had such a mechanism
 existed, I would have voted 
 Bebearia banksi, and in favor of Marleyimyia xylocopae]
 (4) if you are specifically concerned with
 issues of quality control in 
 the editorial
 process at Zookeys, then I might think you'd have a
 chance of effecting change by
 remaining within the system, and pushing 
 for a dialogue on editorial policy there,
 rather than resigning your 
 post. That is,
 admittedly, just my two cents as an outsider.
 As I've noted elsewhere,
 this particular case was well-documented, and 
 passed what I assume to be a rigorous
 peer-review process. The authors 
 made a
 compelling case that this is a new taxon, at the very least,
 that is more than I can say for many
 other recent taxonomic works I've 
 for which type specimens DO exist. I rather suspect that the
 editors and reviewers were entirely
 prepared to reject this paper had it 
 appeared to be a "safe bet" to them, and therefore
 would not judge 
 them as harshly as you
 appear to be doing. Had this work been authored 
 by someone with no credentials, in a journal
 with no peer review, I 
 would probably be
 condemning it, as well; but the Code does not allow us 
 to judge cases by their merits before accepting
 new names, just by 
 compliance or lack
 thereof, and at times this can be a problem. If we as 
 a community are concerned about possible abuses
 of the Code, and we WANT 
 to judge cases
 based on their merits, then the solution is to change the
 system - specifically, such that good
 science will flourish, /and bad 
 will be rejected/. That much is in our power, it just takes
 will, commitment, and consensus. Perhaps
 some day there will be a 
 critical mass of
 taxonomists who are fed up enough to push for this sort 
 of change, but I've been pushing for 20
 years now, and it still seems to 
 be all
 Yanega      Dept. of Entomology   
    Entomology Research Museum
 Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 
    skype: dyanega
 phone: (951)
 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
    "There are some enterprises
 in which a careful disorderliness
    is the true method" - Herman Melville,
 Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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