[Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue May 10 22:33:28 CDT 2016


Hi Daniel,
I am a little bit alarmed by your post, as it seems to conflate together distinct issues! You example is of a very different kind to that under discussion here. It is an example of someone who apparently designated a type specimen in the usual way, but that specimen cannot now be located. The fact that they included a photo with the description actually helps you! Imagine what it would be like *without* the photo! Really, your post is about unidentifiable nominal species (nomina dubia). OK, I take your point that the photo was also insufficient to identify the species in this case, but as I keep saying, description by photo alone must be attempted with discretion. It works in some cases and not in others. If we ban it altogether, we miss out on an opportunity. If we allow it, we risk usage of the method in inappropriate cases. Given that nomina dubia arise for all sorts of other reasons anyway, is it realistic to worry that there is going to be a massive upsurge in these cases if we allow description by photo only? This is an issue worthy of debate. What isn't good is pushing for a blanket ban, using misrepresentations of the Code, and/or belittling the contributions of amateurs.
Cheers,
Stephen

--------------------------------------------
On Wed, 11/5/16, Daniel Leo Gustafsson <kotatsu.no.leo at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
 To: "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
 Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 11 May, 2016, 3:15 PM
 
 In chewing lice there are
 several examples of species being described
 extremely poorly but with a photo of the
 holotype. In some cases, the
 author of these
 species, when it was suggested that his species were
 actually synonyms of already known species, but
 perhaps aberrant
 (teratological) specimens,
 seems to have simply thrown away the specimen
 but kept the slide with the ID number and
 everything on it. I spent way too
 much time
 trying to find what was supposed to be the holotype on the
 slide
 that was referred to in the original
 manuscript, and which had the name of
 this
 purported species written on it (the only one in his
 collection),
 before giving up and coming to
 the conclusion that he probably just
 destroyed the specimen and transferred all the
 data to a new slide. He may
 or may not have
 done that with species he described with illustrations as
 well, but his collection is largely a mess, and
 parts of it has been
 distributed to other
 collections without any known paper trail.
 
 From the downstream position
 of having to deal with species that are
 essentially known only from photos, I cannot
 see any positive benefit from
 a taxonomical
 point of view to allow new species to be described without
 at
 least one specimen.
 
 Cheers,
 Daniel
 
 On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 8:36
 PM, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
 wrote:
 
 > Although I
 agree with some of Morphy et al´s  sentiments regarding
 > potential issues of typeless nomenclature,
 as an amateur entomologist
 > I don´t
 feel particularly threatened by their suggestions (naive
 as
 > they may be). And if, as Doug has
 mentioned, the authors have been
 >
 contacted and the ICZN or members therein intend to submit a
 comment
 > to the journal, then the
 discourse can only help to clarify the issue
 > and interpretation of the code to a wider
 audience. I can´t see this
 > as anything
 but good banter. Am I missing something?
 >
 > In regards to the
 topic of typeless descriptions, and since we are
 > taking sides, if we strip away the
 emotional side of what people´s
 > real
 intentions may or may not be (discourse for psychologists)
 I
 > personally find that a picture,
 albeit a form of evidence, is not
 >
 direct evidence (i.e. it is not part of the type but an
 interpetration
 > of it, digital in this
 case). Being indirect it is not just biased but
 > also crystallized as it limits potential
 future data-acquisition
 > methods. So
 although it may be allowed as a type it is not a very
 > useful one other than meeting the minimum
 criterion for publication.
 >
 > Best
 >
 > On 11 May 2016 at 09:39, Stephen Thorpe
 <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 > wrote:
 > > Mike,
 > > Language is difficult to make clear
 at the best of times. I'm still not
 >
 sure what you mean, but I certainly think that the Swiss
 authors (and
 > probably also the
 Brazilians) want to keep amateurs out of taxonomy. Have
 > you read the article in BZN?
 [Quote]Publications such as those of Marshall
 > & Evenhuis (2015) or Minteer et al.
 (2014) may also stimulate non-experts
 >
 to describe new species based on photographed
 specimens[unquote] While
 >
 "amateur" and "non-expert" are not
 exactly the same thing, I think that the
 > intended meaning is clear enough. By the
 way, Broun was never employed as a
 >
 taxonomist per se. That he did in his own time. Being
 "government
 > entomologist",
 for a short while, involved other duties. See:
 > http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3b52/broun-thomas
 > > Cheers,
 > >
 Stephen
 > >
 > >
 --------------------------------------------
 >
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 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at:
 > http://taxacom.markmail.org
 >
 > Channeling
 Intellectual Exuberance for 29 years in 2016.
 >
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 Channeling Intellectual
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