[Taxacom] manuscript name question

Bevan Weir WeirB at landcareresearch.co.nz
Thu Oct 8 22:06:17 CDT 2015


I can't wait for Taxacom to explode when we get the requirement for DNA barcodes to be part of a valid species description for fungi.
Perhaps half of currently described fungal species have no DNA data.

Bevan


-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of John Grehan
Sent: Friday, 9 October 2015 3:57 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: Taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name question

Stephen,

I don't think anyone is guilty of 'knee jerk' reactions. I think everyone, including yourself, is genuinely trying to articulate their various points of view as best or as precisely as they can. I have found all points of view, and responses, of interest.

John Grehan

On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 10:43 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
wrote:

> I really hate the way that distinct issues are being conflated on this
> matter! The essence of the matter has nothing to do with photographs,
> but with preservation of primary types. Can you describe a new species
> without preservation of the (designated) primary type? Whether you
> include a photo, or a drawing, or just provide written description is
> not the issue. But there are two distinct scenarios: (1) your
> description is based on examination of the primary type, which is then
> discarded; or (2) you only know the primary type by way of a photo. In
> this case (the fly), we have scenario (2). Sure, just having a photo
> is nowhere near as good as having a whole specimen, but then having a
> fossil is nowhere near as good as having a freshly killed specimen.
> So, given a choice, one would prefer to have a freshly killed specimen, and one would prefer to preserve it indefinitely.
> But, if you only have a fossil, or only have a photo, and you have at
> most only a slim  chance of ever getting hold of a freshly killed
> specimen, then it makes sense to make the most of what one does have.
> Hence, species are described based on fossil impressions in rock,
> cloudy amber inclusions, etc. So why not a photograph of a living
> specimen? Whether Marshall & Evenhuis should have waited to see if new
> material could be obtained is a moot point. There may not have been
> any real need to describe this fly now, except to feed the fires of
> Pensoft's desire for publicity. But these are all distinct issues to
> be weighed up and thought about. Knee jerk reactions against
> describing new species from photos really isn't helpful.
>
> Stephen
>
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 9/10/15, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name question
>  To: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Friday, 9 October, 2015, 3:00 PM
>
>  Dean:
>
>  “There seems to be a negative reaction to the term "dead  bodies" for
> animals  that are preserved in museum collection. I find that
> curious.”
>
>  I have never seen this term used in journals, which makes me  suspect
> it was used as click-bait. It is not a direct way to explain  things
> to  “non-native” speakers, it is a catchy title plonked  there in the
> hopes  that BBC or CNN will report the paper (as they sometimes  do).
> But  publicity in a matter like this could have unintended
> consequences. It  is already hard enough collecting “dead bodies”,
> imagine  if you give  them (PETA, WWF, any bureaucratic body,...) ammo
> through  scientific  legitimacy.
>
>  “As to whether it's worth putting a name to a  distinctively new
> species,  isn't that rather the whole point of nomenclature?”
>
>  You misunderstand me Dean. The point I am trying to make is  that, if
> a  particular species is doomed, keeping a couple of pictures  is
> pretty  much useless other than serving to name something.
>  Nomenclature is
>  important because it is the bedrock of something (biology,  ecology,
> etc). Otherwise it is just a rock, a list of names (and you  wouldn´t
> even be certain that the list is correct nor have the means  to
> check).
>  And physcial specimena or, lacking that, tissue samples,  contain the
> information that gives “value” to the name.
>
>  With a physical specimen I can not only verify the original
> hypothesis  in the future, but also access a large amount of
> information  pertaining to the species itself (biology, phylogenetics,
> feeding,  etc). With a photograph I only have pixels, and they will be
> the same  pixels forever.Its value as a store of information
> diminishes with the  passage of time whereas physical specimens become
> more  valuable (DNA,
>  X- ray microtomography are just two recent examples I can  think of).
>  Photographs should be, IMO, a last resort when faced with no  other
> choice, and to me this fly isn´t such a case. Fast and  loose is a
> slippery slope to aliens and Nessie.
>
>  Best
>
>  Jason
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