[Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Sat Jun 3 10:48:23 CDT 2017

Yes, a focus on the part of conservationists on the whole community is a more broadly applicable answer. Another, even more broadly applicable, is to contemplate the fact that we are an invasive species, and we know it. 

Well, I'm too busy doing this and that to write or even sign protests. Maybe someone else will make a difference.  :-)

Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden – 4344 Shaw Blvd. – St. Louis – Missouri – 63110 – USA
richard.zander at mobot.org 
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ 

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of JF Mate
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2017 5:30 PM
To: Taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy

> 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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