[Taxacom] Taxonomic Anarchy and which group do you work on? Also, outreach to conservationists

Tim Dickinson tim.dickinson at utoronto.ca
Sun Jun 4 13:14:55 CDT 2017

Thank you Laurent for this reality check. Is it significant that 
Christidis works on birds? Maybe so. There is a recent attempt at 
comprehensive phylogeny of birds that appeard to be well-founded 
(https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2016/01/last-year-we-ta.html). Also, 
the number of bird species world-wide is perhaps less than 1/20 the 
number of vascular plant species worlwide, and less than 1% of the the 
number of invertebrate species world-wide 
Working with such a relatively small, well-studied, charismatic, 
macroscopic, warm-blooded group might make its taxonomy seem like it 
could be cast in stone (law). Maybe that's even the case.

In other larger, sometimes less accessible, and hence less well-studied 
groups of organisms the situation is very different, as indicated by 
many of the responses on this list. One of the things prospective 
authors of a "rebuttal" should perhaps consider is how to convey this 
variation in numbers and the extents to which we "know" the systematics 
(evolutionary history) underlying the diversity. Likewise, as several 
commenters have mentioned, it might be useful also to try to engage 
groups concerned with conservation (and agriculture and pharmacognosy 
and ...) in the effort.

My two cents' worth.


> Subject:
> Re: [Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy
> From:
> Laurent Raty <l.raty at skynet.be>
> Date:
> 2017-06-04, 8:51 AM
> To:
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> On 06/02/2017 04:04 PM, KD Dijkstra wrote:
>> What I find notable about most responses (Donat’s and Francisco’s are 
>> among
>> the exceptions) is that they shout “rebuttal!” without actually 
>> discussing
>> the faults and especially merits of the comment. The piece is easy to
>> trash* as the authors’ understanding of systematics, conservation and
>> evolution appears about as sophisticated as Noah’s back in the day of 
>> the
>> great flood, but [...]
> Another thing that is notable about most responses is that they assume 
> that the Nature piece was written by 'environmentalists' or 
> 'conservationists' with no or little knowledge of taxonomy.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Christidis
> https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Les_Christidis
> https://scu-au.academia.edu/LesChristidis
> Not so, thus.
> Cheers, Laurent - 

<Tim Dickinson
<Senior Curator Emeritus
<ROM Green Plant Herbarium (TRT)
<Department of Natural History
<Royal Ontario Museum
<100 Queen's Park
<Toronto  ON
<Phone:  (416) 586 8032     FAX:  (416) 586 7921
<E-mail:  tim.dickinson at utoronto.ca
<URL: http://www.rom.on.ca/en/collections-research/rom-staff/tim-dickinson
<URL: http://www.eeb.utoronto.ca/people/d-faculty/Dickinson.htm?quot;%20title=

More information about the Taxacom mailing list