[Annelida] Traditional taxonomy discussion

Brian Paavo via annelida%40net.bio.net (by paavo from wormguy.com)
Sun Feb 7 17:36:34 EST 2010


It was a bit heavy-handed Kirk and presenting haughty absolutes is 
rarely productive.  Geoff, I agree that, given the complexity of 
developmental and environmental interactions with phenotypes, that a 
genetics-heavy approach to taxonomy is not a bad thing.  I also support 
your constructive suggestion that our political efforts (feeble as they 
are) focus on standardisation and improvements to descriptive procedures 
(e.g. allowing digital descriptions, keeping a register, broadening the 
acceptable forms - not substance - of names, etc.) .  I still believe 
that we need to train more taxonomists and anatomists and diversity 
funding is currently an important part of that.  Not only are such 
skills required to effectively build upon the monumental work of the 
past, but observational skills lead to mechanical and ecological 
insights which would often be missed by gene-jocks.  We all need to 
guide the future of our work.  I personally look forward to the deeper 
ecological insights to be gained using the computational perspective of 
information (genes) influences on networks of moving carbon constrained 
by the abiotic environment and I still want to move our basic 
methodologies forward, but the 'old-fashioned' naturalist skills of 
observing individuals, morphologies, behaviours, and populations are 
what provide the context and value to our insights.  It is worthwhile to 
collectively discuss what kind of future we'd like to see.  We've heaped 
a lot of responsibility and faith upon the shoulders of the EOL folks.  
What do we want and how can we and our respective institutions support 
it?  I'm confident that 99% of us help broaden awareness locally.  Is it 
useful to consider how we can unify our impact and entice more workers 
through further-reaching media? 


Geoff Read wrote:
> Hi Kirk,
> Thanks for the short fussilade. Forgive me if in my feeble attempt to introduce this article for discussion, be that subsequently fervent or otherwise, I have appeared to intrude into the world of science philosophy, where you are much more comfortable than I am. But you have presumed too much in the proximity of two sentences. I don't have an opinion on how scientific future or current molecular taxomomists might be.
> Best,
> Geoff
>>>> On 8/02/2010 at 10:19 a.m., "Kirk Fitzhugh" <kfitzhug from nhm.org> wrote:
>> "Personally I tend to agree with the outsiders that traditional descriptive 
>> taxonomy has a weak claim to be real science. Soon only molecular taxonomists 
>> will exist. This is not a bad thing as long as they can also handle and 
>> include organism phenotype descriptions."
>> How is 'traditional descriptive taxonomy' any less scientific than 'only 
>> molecular taxonomists' [sic!]? I'd be fascinated to know of the definitive 
>> text book on doing science that substantiates your claim that presenting 
>> hypotheses isn't a fundamental part of doing science. None of us should 
>> condone a world of 'only molecular taxonomists.' To do so would be a 
>> bastardization of the very principles of science.
>> Kirk
>> ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
>> J. Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
>> Curator of Polychaetes
>> Invertebrate Zoology Section
>> Research & Collections Branch
>> Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
>> 900 Exposition Blvd Los Angeles CA 90007
>> Phone: 213-763-3233
>> FAX:    213-746-2999
>> e-mail: kfitzhug from nhm.org 
>> http://www.nhm.org/site/research-collections/polychaetous-annelids 
>> ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: annelida-bounces from oat.bio.indiana.edu on behalf of Geoff Read
>> Sent: Sun 2/7/2010 12:49 PM
>> To: Annelida from magpie.bio.indiana.edu 
>> Subject: [Annelida] Traditional taxonomy discussion
>> Hello,
>> This commentary is being discussed. Personally I tend to agree with the 
>> outsiders that traditional descriptive taxonomy has a weak claim to be real 
>> science. Soon only molecular taxonomists will exist. This is not a bad thing 
>> as long as they can also handle and include organism phenotype descriptions. 
>> Many can't at the moment. I worry more about the problems with the Zoological 
>> Code, and lack of consensus on the way forward, and the energy wasted on 
>> futility of  archaisms such as gender agreement, minutiae of revisionism in 
>> publication dates, obscure priorities, and especially keeping to print-only 
>> validity of names, and not registering all new names, than the issues raised 
>> here. Politics is everywhere.
>> Boero F 2010. The Study of Species in the Era of Biodiversity: A Tale of 
>> Stupidity. Diversity 2: 115-126.
>> [Open access]
>> http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/d2010115 
>> http://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/2/1/115 
>> Geoff
> NIWA is the trading name of the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd.
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