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Re: hmmm

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Posted by pjay on October 17, 2002 at 13:29:59:

In Reply to: hmmm posted by troy h on October 16, 2002 at 17:13:40:

:: changes that have recently occurred in the major and more importantly regional and obscure journals that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

:in other words, these were published in out of the way journals with more lax editorial requirements . . . often is the case.

No, that is unfair to good journals that may not appear on the shelves of most medium to large university libraries becuase they are not published by blackwell, elsevier and the lot. Many quality herp descriptions can be found in Hamadryad, Revista de Biologica Tropical, as well as Australian and European journals that don't get picked up here in the states because of journal cost or language barriers.

::not accepting a "hypothesis" that is accompanied by data in a valid publication is not a good enough reason not to use the new names.

:it depends on the data, doesn't it? i've seen pubs in J. Herp. where i wondered how in the hell it slipped past the editors, because the data, results, and conclusions were internally inconsistent.

Clearly. I'll address this in a post "down-string". p.s. When did J. Herp become the standard bearer for herp taxonomy?

::ignoring valid taxonomic changes is only going to cause more problems. if you feel that the change is unwarranted, then you should write a paper that refutes the change and returns the name to the old taxonomy.

:again, just because a hypothesis has been presented, doesn't make it valid. we don't force paleontologists to accept the hypothesis that all dinosaurs were warm-blooded, do we? no, we present more data!

Not the same at all. Try to get a paleo-anthropologist to lump their australopithecines. All results based exclusively on fossil evidence are debateable because we have small sample sizes, potential missing links etc. With living species we can and should do better.

:: the use of multiple accepted names would not serve the purpose that taxonomists strive for: unambiguous identification of a unique taxon with a unique name.

:in my years of training as a systematist (MS+) i was under the impression that the main thing to strive for was to uncover the real evolutionary history of an organism.

Thus the difference between a systematist and taxonomist. I thought we were talking about the latter, but I see where you are coming from now.

:and anyway, you're missing my point, i think. i'm not arguing for multiple accepted names, i'm just saying that because a name has been changed recently (often in some obscure paper) doesn't mean that one has to accept that name change. in fact, i'm saying that each name change should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and that the data itself ought to be evaluated. of course, it goes without saying that a researcher ought to point out where he is being "conservative" and maintaining use of an older name, and state why.

Yes, that is acceptable, but not done by most taxonomists in practice. I originally thought that you were an advanced hobbyist struggling with the machinations of taxonomy and wondering why we can't have one good name that we all agree on and never change. Now that I know that you are aspiring to do this for the rest of your life I am surprised by your position. As a systematist you have an investment in "the code" and collegial adherence to taxonomic usage. You may someday publish a taxonomic arrangement that is the product of years of hard work and it will hopefully appear in a major journal that is widely read. Your colleagues will read it and most will dismiss it as crap because they didn't write it themselves, the rest will likely follow their lead because they don't know any better. If you have done an excellent job and you are lucky, you may see your taxonomic arrangement adopted by some specialists within 5 or 10 years. The public may never fully accept your name regardless of how evolutionarily accurate you perceive your data to be. I know many who still use Natrix for Nerodia because they don't care to change.


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