[Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Fri Jun 2 17:30:18 CDT 2017

> All of this is simple to fix -- the Nature paper authors simply do not get
> it, and our community is over thinking the response. When legislation is
> enacted, it should simply specify the paper whose classification is
> followed. Then, if the classification changes, the law still applies to the
> taxon sensu the cited work. This is not brain surgery, folks!

The problem is the gulf in understanding between what species are for
taxonomists or biologists in general (independent of the particular
concept used), and other users:

"The assumption that species are fixed entities underpins every
international agreement on biodiversity
conservation, all national environmental legislation and the efforts
of many individuals and organizations to safeguard
plants and animals.!"

Essentially lawyers and conservationists are using a platonic species
concept, and any mention of "species hypothesis" engenders the feeling
that they are not real: " ‘Species’ are often created or dismissed
arbitrarily, according to the individual taxonomist’s adherence to one
of at least 30 definitions." Further, there is an implied value
hierarchy in legal frameworks were a species is more important than a
ssp or a population and both sides will attempt to move the goalposts.

So if I say Aus bus sensu Ivie (2017), then other taxonomists have a
clearer definition of the taxon that I am refering to, because we
understand that species definitions are blurry, but in lawyer terms I
have credible uncertainty to play with. Hence I think Richard´s
approach (that conservationists have to focus on whole communities,
not single species) is more practical, or at least easier to explain
without opening more fronts to attack.



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