[Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Oct 9 16:00:55 CDT 2015

All of which further proves my point that the Code requirements for neotypes are somewhat "difficult", or else we wouldn't be having such divergent opinions offered from veteran entomologists!


On Sat, 10/10/15, Michael A. Ivie <mivie at montana.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek resign
 To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Saturday, 10 October, 2015, 6:47 AM
 Dear John,
 That (a Neotype) would only be
 valid if there is some confusion about 
 identity.  The Code does not allow Neotypes in cases where
 there is 
 no confusion about what the
 species is.  In this case there is nothing 
 known that is even close to it, so its identity
 is not confused.  The 
 authors covered that
 well in the description.
 10/9/2015 3:30 AM, John Noyes wrote:
 > It seems that
 in this case it should be possible to designate a neotype
 from an extant, preserved specimen. So muDear ch the better
 if the neotype is the holotype of a previously described
 species so that the  "new" species can be treated
 as a junior synonym [although in this particular case that
 seems unlikely]. It can be safely assumed that the
 photographed holotype no longer exists. So long as the
 specimen designated as neotype is pretty damned similar to
 the one in the photograph and all other conditions of
 designating a neotype are met according to the ICZN then I
 cannot see a problem.
 > Maybe that is too mischievous??
 > John
 > John Noyes
 > Scientific Associate
 Department of Life Sciences
 > Natural
 History Museum
 > Cromwell Road
 > South Kensington
 London SW7 5BD
 > UK
 jsn at nhm.ac.uk
 > Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
 > Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229
 > Universal
 Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about
 chalcidoids and more):
 > -----Original Message-----
 > From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
 On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe
 > Sent: 07
 October 2015 21:04
 > To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu;
 bayshark at exemail.com.au
 > Cc: penev at pensoft.net
 > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] why Martin Fikacek
 > I'm
 sure that people are playing right into Lyubo's hands by
 adding to the publicity about this (any publicity is good
 publicity!) Pensoft are a commercial publisher. I have
 pretty much given up on them as well, largely because
 Biodiversity Data Journal has now become little more than a
 venue for promotional papers, miles away from its initially
 stated philosophy.
 Nevertheless, many of the reasons cited against describing
 new species from photos are quite unconvincing. Why is
 palaeontology considered to be science? An impression in
 rock, or a partly obscured amber inclusion are both on a par
 with a photograph, given that you can't see all the
 relevant characters, you can't dissect, and you
 can't extract DNA (most of the time).
 > It would be a very
 bad idea to describe a new species of hydrophilid beetle
 (Martin Fikacek's speciality) from photograph(s) of a
 live specimen, but this may not apply equally to other
 groups of organisms. Iterestingly, Fikacek does describe
 fossil hydrophilids!
 > One thing, however, that Marshall &
 Evenhuis did misinterpret from the Code relates to
 "Designation of an illustration of a single specimen as
 a holotype is to be treated as designation of the specimen
 illustrated". This is actually quite irrelevant!
 Designating a specimen as holotype via a photograph, is what
 Marshall & Evenhuis have done. This is very different
 from designating a photograph of a specimen as holotype! The
 above quote from the Code simply reduces the latter to the
 former, but that is irrelevant here.
 > As for Vratislav's P.S.: >If this
 will continue, anybody can create not just new species, but
 complete new family using just Photoshop.<
 > Anybody can and
 always could do effectively that anyway. Write a verbal
 description based on fictional characters, maybe add a few
 fanciful drawings, and conveniently claim the holotype to
 have been subsequently lost. Lost holotypes do not
 invalidate described taxa.
 > Stephen
 > On Wed, 7/10/15, bayshark at exemail.com.au
 <bayshark at exemail.com.au>
 >   Subject: [Taxacom] why Martin
 Fikacek resign
 >   To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 >   Received: Wednesday, 7
 October, 2015, 9:44 PM
 >   https://www.facebook.com/martin.fikacek.7/posts/10206448754731807
 >   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
 >   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
 >   photograph!!!)
 >   (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
 >   general) REALLY
 >   OUT OF SCIENCE. Hence, this
 is a step backward, not an  innovative way as you  present
 >   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
 >   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
 >   Martin
 >   Vratislav
 >   (name)
 Vratislav Richard Eugene Maria John Baptist
 >   (surname) of Bejšák (read
 as a
 >   Bayshark)-Colloredo-Mansfeld
 >   website:
 >   address: P.O.Box 3335 ,
 Redfern, NSW 2016  AUSTRALIA
 >   phone : +61 0420602040
 >   http://www.facebook.com/bayshark
 >   alternate email: bayshark at ymail.com
 >   (to iPhone)
 >   _______________________________________________
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 >   The Taxacom Archive back to
 1992 may be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 >   Celebrating 28 years of
 Taxacom in 2015.
 > Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 > Celebrating 28 years
 of Taxacom in 2015.
 > Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 > Celebrating 28 years
 of Taxacom in 2015.
 Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.,
 Montana Entomology
 Marsh Labs, Room 50
 1911 West Lincoln Street
 corner of Lincoln and S.19th
 Montana State
 Bozeman, MT 59717
 994-4610 (voice)
 (406) 994-6029 (FAX)
 mivie at montana.edu
 Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 Celebrating 28 years of
 Taxacom in 2015.

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