Publishing taxa in Latin and in print

Jane McGary
Fri, 22 Jul 2011 10:20:15 PDT
Tim Chapman is right about the excessive cost of obtaining journal 
articles online if you don't do it through an institution that has a 
subscription -- and those subscriptions are extremely costly for the 
underfunded libraries that have them. However, he wrote,

>An electronic system that reduces the hurdles in getting new species 
>published is needed. The concept some are promoting of a free to 
>publish free to access system would be great.  Authors don't profit 
>from publishing new species, and it seems absurd to pay $35 for a 
>PDF file of the one article you might be looking for.   It would 
>make sense if feasible to require  electronic copies of newly 
>published species to be stored in central locations. Ie, a database 
>like with links to the PDF files.  This would 
>mainly be for those that weren't published through traditional journals.

If the descriptions are not published in peer-reviewed journals, they 
are not likely to be generally accepted, although eventually someone 
may see the description, go back to the specimens or the population 
(provided specimens have been deposited in accessible herbaria), and 
confirm the species with a new description.

We all know of now-accepted species that were first described by 
amateurs (our local example is Erythronium elegans) and later 
"accepted into the fold." On the other hand, we also know of people 
who publish descriptions in personally printed or "captive" journals 
and, as a result, suffer the contempt of academic botanists, whether 
or not their observations are valid. At worst, publishing unreviewed 
species descriptions results in a proliferation of names that denote 
local populations of widespread species, or mere forms.

You can tell from the foregoing that I'm a lumper, or at least a 
strong believer in continua, though not a botanist. I don't think two 
speech varieties that are 90% mutually intelligible are different 
"languages", nor would I like to think that two plants that differ 
only in 2 mm of filament length or a touch of pink on the margin of 
the tepals are different "species."

Jane McGary

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