[Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy

Scott Thomson scott.thomson321 at gmail.com
Sun Jun 4 19:23:59 CDT 2017


Although I avoid conservation biology, largely for reasons I outlined
earlier such as circularity risks if I both try to name and conserve
species, my background purely by happenstance has exposed me to
conservation biology. My undergraduate degrees and masters were done at a
University that does not specialise in taxonomy, it specialises in ecology
and conservation / management. I was basically a taxonomy student in an
Ecology lab. This meant the needs of conservation was drilled into me by my
surroundings. I also these days work in many countries (21 so far) and have
picked up on the legislation across these areas.

One thing to consider is how it all ties together. The local policies in a
given area are bolstered by both RedList and CITES listings. So to get
maximum conservation effort for a population it is desirable for it to have
both of these. The RedList is based at the species level and for a proposal
to list to succeed it is generally needed for the taxon to be described.
What the IUCN does not do is update very well. However a species is
considered to be currently listed by its last assessment and whatever
nomenclature that has. No problem. CITES updates its nomenclature every 12
months and lists taxa by any taxonomic level, eg the family Testudinidae
are all CITES II unless otherwise stipulated as CITES I. So it does not
have to be a species, however it must be described. Again they are capable
of migrating the nomenclature each year if it changes. But recombinations
can cause species to drop off the list.

The problem is Country and State leglislations which have a tendency to use
a scheduling model. A taxon is listed in an Act as being scheduled for
protection. This gives them legislative protection but lawyers being
lawyers all the names have to match, so when nomenclature does not match
the species looses its protection. Technically anyway. It gives grounds for
technical dismissals of cases.

We also need to recognise that CITES is an agreement, not a piece of
legislation. The signatories of the agreement (160 odd countries) agreed to
formulate legislation to prevent the trade in any species CITES lists.
Generally the countries take care of their own and then further recognise
the legislation of other countries for exotics, ie the US has its Lacey Act
to recognise the laws of other countries. This is where it is all is done
at species level. This is where all this gets complicated and I totally
agree it should never have been done this way but in 1975 it was.

The problem in this current proposal is they basically want to "freeze"
taxonomic and nomenclatural change, without saying it. Making it very
difficult for the science of taxonomy to proceed. I can see the issues
conservation has, but what they propose is not the solution. What we need
to do is demonstrate that this is an inappropriate solution, explain what
taxonomy and nomenclature are, offer reasonable alternatives.

Cheers, Scott

On Sun, Jun 4, 2017 at 8:43 PM, Carlos Sarmiento <cesarmiento at yahoo.com>
wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I wonder if the authors of the paper,  willing to ask for a law-approach
> to "solve the problem once and for all" are aware of the strong discussions
> between legal traditions. Another topic that I found is that these debates
> seems to deviate our focus from more obvious factors. Is the problem of
> conservation a question of naming species or is it a question of the
> population grow rate and energy consumption habits of a single one? Are
> unprotected the undescribed species that live om a national park?
>
> I would like to joint a rebuttal proposal
>
>
>
> El 4/06/2017, a las 11:43, Juan Francisco Araya <jfaraya at u.uchile.cl>
> escribió:
>
> > Dear Colleagues:
> >
> > I would like to be part of the response to this paper.
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Juan Francisco
> >
> > El 1 jun. 2017 6:38 PM, "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
> escribió:
> >
> >> I began drafting a rebuttal Correspondence note to Nature before I was
> >> even finished reading the article.  I'm glad to see I'm not the only one
> >> who had a similar reaction.
> >>
> >> Aloha,
> >> Rich
> >>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf
> >>> Of Scott Thomson
> >>> Sent: Thursday, June 1, 2017 5:47 AM
> >>> To: JF Mate
> >>> Cc: Taxacom
> >>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Taxonomy Anarchy
> >>>
> >>> Several of us who were co-authors on my paper in BZN on Case 3601 have
> >>> briefly discussed this. We have issues with the concept of Conservation
> >>> attempting to control taxonomy as this leads to circularity. Taxonomy
> is
> >> a
> >>> science and must have the freedom to perform its function without the
> >>> constraints of other sciences or fields. A point the code also
> >> acknowledges.
> >>> Their aim is to constrain taxonomy to a single species concept. This
> >> would
> >>> vastly debilitate the development of potential breakthroughs in the
> >> future of
> >>> taxonomy. Conservationists are end users of taxonomy and nomenclature,
> a
> >>> point that taxonomists should recognise with some consideration, but
> >>> taxonomy must have the academic freedom to explore and present its
> >>> science without political influence.
> >>>
> >>> So yes I reject the views of that paper. I also think that they are
> >> confused on
> >>> what taxonomy is. When they say that taxonomists would welcome a
> >>> constraint on how taxonomy is done, I get the impression they are
> >> referring
> >>> to nomenclature there, not taxonomy.
> >>>
> >>> Cheers, Scott
> >>>
> >>> On Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 12:29 PM, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> When I read the title I assumed it would be about the cladification of
> >>>> classifications or supraspecific oversplitting. Instead it is solving
> >>>> a legal issue by adding lawyers to taxonomy and systematics. What
> >>>> could go wrong.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> On 1 June 2017 at 16:56, Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>>> Another thing for taxonomists to worry about:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> https://www.nature.com/news/taxonomy-anarchy-hampers-
> >>>> conservation-1.22064
> >>>>>
> >>>>> "Taxonomy anarchy" and its supposed solution. Journal Nature.
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> -------
> >>>>> Richard H. Zander
> >>>>> Missouri Botanical Garden - 4344 Shaw Blvd. - St. Louis - Missouri -
> >>>> 63110 - USA
> >>>>> richard.zander at mobot.org<mailto:richard.zander at mobot.org>
> >>>>> Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm and
> >>>> http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
> >>>>>
> >>>>> _______________________________________________
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> >>> 2017.
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> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> Scott Thomson
> >>> Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo Avenida Nazaré, 481,
> >>> Ipiranga 04263-000, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
> >>>
> >>> Chelonian Research Institute
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> >>> Oviedo, 32765, Florida, USA
> >>>
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> >>> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Some Years,
> 1987-2017.
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
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> >>
> >>
> >> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Some Years,
> 1987-2017.
> >>
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>



-- 
Scott Thomson
Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo
Avenida Nazaré, 481, Ipiranga
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