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  #1  
Unread June 2nd, 2009, 09:57 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Unhappy The Death of Taxonomy and Systematics ?

http://www.the-scientist.com/2009/06/1/32/1/

Lamenting the "paradigm shift" in biology from studying the organism to studying the genome. Can't we study both?

Taxonomy and systematics are still being done effectively, but the jobs are drying up.

Quote:
"... there are fewer and fewer biologists who practice traditional taxonomy, or the collection, description, naming and categorization of organisms through intense study of their physical attributes. In general, the field of taxonomy, or systematics as it is often called, has been leaning towards the molecular end of the spectrum since genetic technology matured in the late 1970s and 1980s, and traditional taxonomic skills have been dwindling as older taxonomic experts retire."
and concludes ...

Quote:
"Ironically, the demise of taxonomy and systematics might be attributable to its most fervent champions. "I think in the past there's been a tradition in classical taxonomy that it's OK to isolate yourself from the world to work in the museum," says Regier. "There has to be somewhat of a shift in culture." Indeed, because it formed the bedrock of biology for centuries, taxonomy carries with it a lot of perceptual baggage. "It's hard to get over this image of the systematist being just a stamp collector," says Cognato. But nothing could be further from the truth, he says. "Properly done, [traditional taxonomy] gets you out in the field and discovering many new things that wouldn't have been found without them."
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  #2  
Unread June 2nd, 2009, 03:10 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: The Death of Taxonomy and Systematics ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddStark View Post
http://www.the-scientist.com/2009/06/1/32/1/

Lamenting the "paradigm shift" in biology from studying the organism to studying the genome. Can't we study both?
In a land of infinite wealth, sure. It's not something I'm willing to pay for (I know how much easier it is to use someone else's money to pay for something I'd like).

I'd rather a more casual study of specimens after being informed by the genomics.

And, the fewer species that are identified, the fewer costly bridges over highways and fewer dam bypasses. While I'm sensitive to species groups going extinct; saving one of dozens of barely discernible species is another cost I'd rather not bear. IWO, a stickle-back with a marginally longer stickle going extinct, even if it is a different species from other-lengthed-sticklebacks, is something stickleback-huggers should pay for themselves. It would bother me if the last species of stickleback is about to be gone.
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  #3  
Unread June 3rd, 2009, 07:23 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Default Re: The Death of Taxonomy and Systematics ?

Hi Tom, thanks for your thoughts!

There are short term costs and there are long term costs. Sometimes the long term costs of something aren't obvious for a long time. My perspective is that we are very far from a complete understanding of how genes construct organisms, in fact in a sense it appears that we've just discovered the basic principles, that's what makes molecular biology so exciting. So we really don't know the long term cost of incompleteness of our ongoing historical catalog.
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  #4  
Unread June 3rd, 2009, 02:47 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: The Death of Taxonomy and Systematics ?

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Originally Posted by ToddStark View Post
Hi Tom, thanks for your thoughts!

There are short term costs and there are long term costs. Sometimes the long term costs of something aren't obvious for a long time. My perspective is that we are very far from a complete understanding of how genes construct organisms, in fact in a sense it appears that we've just discovered the basic principles, that's what makes molecular biology so exciting. So we really don't know the long term cost of incompleteness of our ongoing historical catalog.
That's certainly true. But, in answer to your question, "Can't we study both?", how many thousands of dollars are you willing to spend out of your own pocket for an entomologist to pick apart nearly identical fleas?
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