[Taxacom] OMG! DNA only descriptions (with one habitus photo)!

John Longino jacklongino at gmail.com
Thu Jul 25 16:48:24 CDT 2019


Michael Branstetter and I have been using UCE sequence data to examine
species boundaries not just from single sites (like ACG) but from all of
Central America. It is clear that diversity is fractal and that for every
local haplotype cluster there are dozens to hundreds of other haplotypes
spread across the landscape, all residing in diploid individuals that are
morphologically and/or ecologically nearly identical. So to me, there is
an issue of practicality and utility. If ACG needs these latin binomials
to refer to their local sympatric populations, for community ecology
studies or such, then great. But I am undecided about how to treat
geographically extensive diversity. If I have a clade that extends from
Veracruz to Panama, comprising dozens of genetically isolated populations
(often allopatric, maybe parapatric, maybe narrow zones of sympatry), each
with its own unique dna barcode, but all looking the same and doing the
same things, do I really want 100 latin bionomials for those? In some
ways, I'd like to be able to use a latin binomial for the whole bunch, and
if necessary refer to "the Guanacaste population of Aus bus, with dna
barcode xyz." David Donoso has suggested just using BINs to identify
specific populations. Conceivably we could develop a somewhat subjective
use of latin bionomials, for scientific communication purposes, and have
tables that assign multiple BINs to particular latin binomials.

A more general, and insurmountable, problem is that we all are inherently
typological, and the general public strongly so, so that we can say "We
have 5 million or so insect species to describe", when species are fractal
and not something you can readily count (other than in a local assembly).
This kind of thinking makes conservationists uncomfortable, because the
public's typology is a powerful conservation incentive.

I have no solution to this, but I do worry that the assignment of latin
names to ever more finely divided genetic structure across the world will
reverse the utility of the Linnaean convention we have used for so long.

Jack
________________________________________

John T. (Jack) Longino
Department of Biology
257 S 1400 E, University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 USA



Longino Ant Lab at https://sites.google.com/site/longinoantlab/
Project ADMAC at https://sites.google.com/site/admacsite/home






On 7/25/19, 3:17 PM, "Taxacom on behalf of Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom"
<taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

> Derek,Option (2), except with diagnostic photos, is far and away the
>best option. Verbal descriptions can be kept to diagnoses. Most of the
>additional characters should be visible in the photos (which may include
>photos of dissections, etc.) Photos are quick, cheap and easy these days.
>I suggest that you are incorrect to equate option (2) with a "return to
>the 1800s". A lot of taxonomists today seem to think that overly
>longwinded and detailed descriptions make them look better, but it is a
>facade!Stephen
>
>    On Thursday, 25 July 2019, 08:45:49 pm UTC, Derek Sikes via Taxacom
><taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
> 
> Interesting...
>
>I see three basic options for dealing with the remaining 5+ million
>insects
>awaiting names:
>
>1) continue with our traditional integrated approach - low error rates,
>but
>slow (at 10k new spp / year that's 500 more years minimum, to complete
>this, meanwhile we're in the middle of the planet's 6th mass extinction
>event)
>
>2) speed up our traditional methods using brief morphological diagnoses in
>a manner typical of the 1800s (a few sentences, no illustrations) - high
>error rates (as evidenced by the # of synonyms among older names)
>
>3) speed up our traditional methods using DNA barcodes as diagnoses -
>medium (or low-ish depending on taxon) error rates
>
>this new approach fits option 3, balancing the need for speed with the
>need
>for higher quality data. As long as the names are code compliant, why not?
>Seems better than having all these DNA barcode BINs with just code names,
>or these species going extinct before they're named.
>
>Thankfully, my taxon is not hyperdiverse, so I'll stick with option 1, but
>for those working in really hyperdiverse taxa with 90% undescribed rates,
>I'd rather see them use option 3 than 2. In an ideal world, we'd have
>enough research support to speed up option 1 by generating a much larger
>work force of taxonomists. I don't think we live in an ideal world.
>
>-Derek
>
>On Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 11:51 AM Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <
>taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>> https://dez.pensoft.net/article/34683/
>>
>> Yikes!
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>> Nurturing nuance while assaulting ambiguity for 32 some years,
>>1987-2019.
>>
>
>
>-- 
>
>+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
>Professor of Entomology
>University of Alaska Museum
>1962 Yukon Drive
>Fairbanks, AK  99775-6960
>
>dssikes at alaska.edu
>
>phone: 907-474-6278
>FAX: 907-474-5469
>
>University of Alaska Museum  -  search 400,276 digitized arthropod records
>http://arctos.database.museum/uam_ento_all
><http://www.uaf.edu/museum/collections/ento/>
>+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>
>Interested in Alaskan Entomology? Join the Alaska Entomological
>Society and / or sign up for the email listserv "Alaska Entomological
>Network" at
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>Nurturing nuance while assaulting ambiguity for 32 some years, 1987-2019.
>  
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