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

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sat Jul 27 20:34:28 CDT 2019


Stephen,

I don't see how read anything more than what you said. You may feel that
your inferences about motives are accurate or fair, but unless backed up by
actual evidence (e.g. a person admitting to these motives) then its all
irrelevant. For example, years ago Tuxen turned down a paper for his
journal and one might impute particular motives that were unrelated to the
quality of the paper. As it turned out the editor did put in writing that
the reason was his prejudice against Croizat (anything referencing
Croizat's  work was not going to be published in that journal as long as he
was editor).

Whether or not decisions are good or not with respect to particular
criteria is open for evaluation without considering speculative motives.
That's all I am saying.

John Grehan

On Sat, Jul 27, 2019 at 9:00 PM Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
wrote:

> John,
> I think you may be reading too much into what I was trying to say. I was
> simply suggesting that, regarding the commission, the balance between
> keeping people happy and ensuring the stability and universality of
> zoological nomenclature is tilted a bit too much in favour of the former,
> in my opinion. That's all! As far as "imputing motives" go, it isn't
> particularly outlandish or suggesting anything shockingly untoward or
> nefarious. It is just not exactly ideal, that is all. My "evidence" is the
> way that Pape is reinterpreting the code in order to save this DNA only
> approach from being deemed non-code compliant. On any straightforward
> reading of the code, a string of symbols is not "words", but Pape is
> pushing the argument that T, for example, can be interpreted as an
> abbreviation (and therefore a word) for thymine, rather than as a symbol
> (and therefore not a word), and that if it can be so interpreted, then it
> should be so interpreted, even though the result is to uphold a work that
> is of very dubious value taxonomically. On the other hand, the commission
> is less inclined to protect the nomenclature of Ray Hoser, for example,
> which actually is clearly code compliant! So it seems that the commission
> is a bit of a "political wind sock".
> Cheers, Stephen
>
> On Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:00:20 pm UTC, John Grehan <
> calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> Stephen, you often make some interesting and even pertinent points,
> whether or not I may always agree, but please leave out the garbage of
> imputing motives ( "as they will be more concerned with the politics of not
> getting off-side with any significant sector of the broadly taxonomic
> community") unless you have actual hard evidence. I have to put up with
> certain politicians using that tactic and I would rather not see it adopted
> in taxonomic discussion.
>
> John Grehan
>
> On Sat, Jul 27, 2019 at 6:40 PM Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>  Thomas,I didn't say that T has to be interpreted as a symbol for thymine,
> just that it can reasonably be so interpreted, i.e. there is "wiggle room"
> to invalidate the work based on lack of descriptions/diagnoses in words. It
> is entirely ambiguous between symbol or abbreviation, so the availability
> of the work is entirely ambiguous. Such ambiguity requires a ruling one way
> or the other (if there is significant disagreement within the taxonomic
> community on this point, which there may or may not turn out to be). Also,
> I assume that the journal DEZ still prints hard copy, but if not then the
> work is unavailable e-only due to the lack of a specified archive on
> ZooBank.I comes as no surprise to me that the commission is prepared to
> allow this sort of DNA only pseudo-taxonomy, as they will be more concerned
> with the politics of not getting off-side with any significant sector of
> the broadly taxonomic community. Personally, I relegate to the rubbish bin
> any work which erects new taxa on the basis of*, e.g. "Many specimens of
> this species were originally identified as Zelomorpha arizonensis by MJS
> based on morphology. However, p-distances
> between Z. arizonensis and Z. angelsolisi are greater than 8%", and which
> fails to even mention a very relevant article from earlier in the year by
> the same authors, i.e.
> https://www.mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4565.1.11Cheers,Stephen
> *The best approach here would have been to simply state that some
> morphologically indistinguishable specimens of Z. arizonensis have been
> found to have p-distances up to 8% different from others, which may
> indicate a cryptic species complex, requiring further research.
>     On Saturday, 27 July 2019, 07:20:39 pm UTC, Richard Zander via Taxacom
> <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>  Possibly SAMPLING is the key to resolving this problem. I've got a book
> on sampling that requires a huge number of samples to get a true idea of
> variation, but this is when nothing much is known about a group and the
> group the group is in.
>
> We usually know enough to be able to describe a species from a single
> specimen if we know that related species have little variation, and by
> extension, so might the new one. Sampling then depends in part on context.
>
> We sample taxa. Only the most dedicated monographer looks at every
> specimen. We sample to get a handle on the features of a species. What
> features? The ones important for other scientists, which nowadays means
> ecology, evolution, population biology, and the like. Barcoding is
> unhelpful. Describing in detail every species in a speciose group can be
> overkill.
>
> In an era of existential calamity, in my opinion, we want good information
> to help us deal with evolvability, adaptation, and change of environment
> without collapse. Relentless taxonomy is useless without those who
> interpret our product. We need some sort of contract or deal with
> ecologists and environmentalists that makes the most of what we taxonomists
> can do in the next 50 years. 30 years? 20 years?
>
> Take any speciose group. What trends or principles are involved in its
> evolution, what species die off and what are the correlates if any, what
> species generate biotypes and descendant species galore, what species are
> truly different...?  What are the questions you think might be asked of
> your area of expertise that might incrementally help humans make amends for
> their hubris? A good revision can provide abundant material for
> evolutionary and environmental theory. Have you any theories about
> evolution past and future in your group?
>
> -------
> Richard H. Zander
> Missouri Botanical Garden – 4344 Shaw Blvd. – St. Louis – Missouri – 63110
> – USA
> richard.zander at mobot.org Ofc: +1 314 577-0276
> Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm and
> http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
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> Nurturing nuance while assaulting ambiguity for 32 some years, 1987-2019.
>
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>
>


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