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

Daniel Leo Gustafsson kotatsu.no.leo at gmail.com
Thu May 12 11:20:40 CDT 2016


Conversely, you seem to be imagining some sort of excellent best-case dream
scenario, in which all possible characters are adequately catalogued and
illustrated by the original photos, including characters that have not yet
been recognised as useful for the taxon in question, and basing your
argument on that. I find that to be as unhelpful an approach as assuming
the opposite.

Other than that, I agree with Jason that photos plus specimens is
potentially a greater source of information than just photos. and I cannot
see how having a specimen in addition to a set of photos could possibly
give you less data than just having the photo. How, exactly, is the
specimen reducing the amount of information obtainable from the photo(s)?

In any case, my original point was that given how much of an unnecessary
hassle it can be to work with species where the type is known only from
photos and the specimen has subsequently deliberately (or accidentally)
been destroyed, I cannot see any virtue in essentially destroying the
specimen that could have been deposited as a holotype already before the
manuscript has been published. At the very least, it creates unnecessary
extra work future taxonomists.


On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 11:17 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
> wrote:

> Hi again Daniel,
> I think I have just replied to Jason on some of these points, but again:
> nobody is advocating the deliberate reduction of available data. If you
> only have a photo, and little or no prospect of getting additional
> material, then it is a waste of existing data (i.e. the photo) not to use
> it. Also, having a specimen might actually give you no more data (and
> possibly even less data) than a good photo does, as specimens tend to
> degrade. Anyway, there is nothing, to my mind anyway, that precludes more
> data turning up after description to help to confirm or refute the original
> hypothesis (i.e. that it is a new species). I think that you may be
> thinking of the worst case scenario, and basing your argument on that! By
> the way, I wasn't accusing *you* of "bashing amateurs", or of
> misrepresenting the Code! That comment was directed at the articles in
> Systematic Ent. and BZN.
> 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: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
>  Cc: "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, "Taxacom" <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Wednesday, 11 May, 2016, 5:05 PM
>  We seem to be talking past each
>  other, as your post is largely a reiteration of my post.
>  Even if the photos are the best photos since the dawn of
>  photography, I still have "no way to get more data than
>  what was in the original publication, regardless of what the
>  code actually says". If the holotype is lost -- whether
>  it was released or destroyed in a fire or deliberately
>  thrown away -- this is still the case, with the caveat that
>  if a deposited holotype existed somewhere in a collection
>  between the description and the disappearance, there is a
>  chance that some other taxonomist may have had a look at it
>  and added information. This is also still the case if the
>  species was described by text only, or text and drawings,
>  regardless of the quality of any of these sets of
>  information. I agree with all of these points; the photo as
>  such is a red herring.
>  What remains, and what I sought to illustrate
>  with my first example, is that it is tedious and
>  time-consuming, not to mention impossible, to try to guess
>  what characters a species possess when it is impossible to
>  study a specimen, regardless of the reason for this
>  impossibility. Just as limiting the sources of nomina dubia
>  is a valid way to try to limit the number of (at least new)
>  nomina dubia, limiting the sources of guesswork is a valid
>  way to limit the number of species for which we have to
>  guess the characters because of idiosyncrasies of its
>  author(s) (including their having released the specimens for
>  whatever reason).
>  For what it's worth, the same author
>  who presumably threw away the holotype of the species I
>  referred to previously also described virtually all his
>  species and genera based solely of host relationships, and
>  the descriptions typically contain more text about the
>  person he is naming the species after than any diagnostic
>  characters. He's also an early version of Hoser, and
>  spent his early career going through older publications and
>  giving names to any population of chewing lice the original
>  author claimed to be slightly different, without every
>  having seen specimens. Nevertheless, he was a professional
>  in the sense of getting paid to do this. I have not yet read
>  the paper that started this whole conversation, so I am not
>  here to bash amateurs. I just don't see how
>  "promoting good taxonomy" is consistent with
>  arbitrarily and irreversibly limiting the amount of data
>  available to future workers.
>  Cheers,
>  Daniel

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