How do we deal with the thousands of highly contested GLOVAP new combinations?

Love it … I’ll have to remember that one.

“Stable taxonomy” is kind of an oxymoron these days, regardless of the group of organisms. If a group has been stable for a while it’s probably only because no systematist has yet tackled it with modern techniques. I disagree with some of iNat’s taxonomy (not the plants, since I’m not a botanist) but I don’t lose sleep over it. If observers could use their favorite synonym rather than a single available name for an organism, the site would be chaos. We need some sort of agreed-upon taxonomy just to make the site functional. But, yeah, it’s imperfect, like most things.

2 Likes

Interesting attitude to the modern scientific method @cistanthe_at_gmail.

I guess to be brief I should just say I disagree with just about everything you have to say.

4 Likes

That’s not my posture at all. In fact, I think General Patton’s statement makes a better case for independent peer review than I ever could.

I’m sorry if that is what peer review amounts to where you do your science. As both a contributor and recipient of peer review, I can only say that this isn’t the case where I am.

This thread less about the scientific merits of the new combinations, and more about their uncritical adoption given lack of the normal checks and balances and rationales on which to judge those merits.

Quite so. And the issue here is that iNat’s adopted taxonomic framework, POWO, is nevertheless doing just that. So iNat curators and community members are now in the position of conducting ex post facto peer review, to the best of our capabilities and with little or no access to supporting evidence, for thousands of newly adopted names.

7 Likes

Yes, need to return to the original thread, GLOVAP. And I say they did nothing new nor remotely unethical. It goes with the territory of the challenge of writing a global flora. And without this or similar, iNAT would be in trouble. Naturally, they have to classify according to their opinions, which I regard as reasonably qualified, and they have reasonable INTERNAL checks and balances and rationales. I think they have stated, and it certainly is true, that given their large number of collaborators, these names were subjected to FAR MORE scrutiny than new names published in peer-reviewed journals. And one must presume that they are not trying to classify things WRONG, after all. In many cases, they had to valdily publish the names they prefer. The scientific rigor and peer review complaint was a red herring and a smokescreen. Mainly because the EXISTING names never were subjected to such rigor or review, many dating back to the 19th Century. As I indicated, the REAL reason for the complaint was that people felt that their “taxonomic territory” had been violated. One specific complaint in the ASPT letter was that GLOVAP “stole the thunder” from recent students, i.e., it denied them the posterity of seeing their OWN name as the author of a taxon. I plant to submit a proposal to the next IBC to REPLACE personal author names of taxa with hexavigesimal code, analogous to GenBank. The current format of personal author is unwieldy, author abbreviations very inconsistent historically, and most people do not understand what they mean in any case. So with a code, one can look up the author and the history, if they really care, which most of biology does not. Scientific publications only list taxon authors as a matter of convention. What information they contain would be conveyed EASIER, BETTER, and MORE COMPREHENSIBLY with a code.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

1 Like

I have used one or another version of the Genesis thing in botany classes in one context or another, and also in https://ecoevorxiv.org/wgaf3/ recently, p.7-8. Remarkable that I am the only taxonomist to have noted this peculiarty.

Thankfully, I was published 10 or 20 years ago. If anyone wants proof, I will link my ORCID profile. But I have been taken aback that in the past couple months, I have gotten unsolicited emails from journals I never heard of, basically advertising themselves as accepting manuscript submissions. The most recent one is titled Life: the Excitement of Biology, which sounds fun, but it’s not the sort of name I expect a scientific publication to have. Granted, as the Millennials come into their own, older ideas of formality are falling out of favor (and good riddance, mostly), but the downside to that is that it can be difficult to tell whether a new journal is serious or not.

1 Like

Those unsolicited emails asking for your manuscripts are just spam designed for scientists. Nothing to do with millennials and mores of formality, APC farms like those are the academic-targeting version of Nigerian prince emails. They’ll print anything (literally-- you can send them Lorem ipsum for all they care) in return for a couple hundred dollar fee. There have been many stings showing this (stuff like https://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full or https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/blinded-by-scientific-gobbledygook). Vetting whether a journal is legit or not is now part of the what it takes to get published and why reputation helps. If you’re active in a field and have never even heard of a journal asking for your expertise, that’s probably for a fair reason.

3 Likes

In many cases they don’t even care if you send money or a contribution. They will gladly take it, if you do so, but the goal is harvesting of emails to find ones that are active to go into either the list to spam or to target for identity theft.

There is a similar thread on the site about a “photography” site that makes it look like it is selling your posted online photos. They are not, the entire objective is to get you to the file a complaint page to give them your personal info and email.

5 Likes

It does a disservice to much recent (e.g. 21st Century) taxonomic work to conflate these efforts with, some of the work published in previoius eras. The first part of your discussion I quote above is quite correct. I presently live in the moth world and the 19th Century names of moths were created with such rapidity and lack of review that they are very frequently needing new lectotype designations, other clarifications, or wholesale replacement. However, it is precisely because I recognize the names of those troublesome (and prolific) early authors such as Walker and Grote that I know to double-check the subsequent taxonomic history. By contrast, some type of coded authorship would yet another layer of obfuscation to discern what might or might not be a usable name.

2 Likes