Contenido más reciente ...

15 de octubre de 2010

Taxonomía: el valor del toque humano y la cooperación

Compart aquí un par de notas en Nature muy interesantes:

Taxonomy: add a human touch too
Antonio G. Valdecasas & Quentin D. Wheeler
Journal name: Nature Volume: 467 , Page: 788 Date published: (14 October 2010)
DOI: doi:10.1038/467788a

Norman MacLeod and colleagues' call to develop automated species-identification systems is laudable (Nature 467, 154–155; 2010), but let's not forget a core feature of taxonomic work that depends on a scholar's input — the discovery of new characters.

Unexpected evolutionary novelties in morphology and physiology, for example, are what make taxonomic exploration rewarding. Taxonomists set out to discover and track such novelties and their evolutionary history. It is in this sense that taxonomy provides the empirical basis for understanding speciation and phylogeny.

There is a place for automated pattern detection, but it would not work with the 5,000 species of Drosophila, say, which are identified by their many different structures. Taxonomy can independently test and verify identifications without relying on patterns of single characters, as the long list of synonymies in any biological group testifies. The practice of taxonomic revision and publishing detailed monographs ensures that character distributions, species status and phylogenetic relationships are subject to repeated and critical testing.

We should beware the trend to confuse automatic identification tools with those that are useful for discovering new species. The emerging field of cybertaxonomy is an advance only if it is understood as enhancing and enabling theory-rich descriptive taxonomy, not replacing it.

As in many other modern scientific fields, including diagnostic medicine and molecular genetics, a final step involving a human expert is essential.

Taxonomy: include social networking
Jonathan Silvertown
Journal name: Nature Volume: 467 , Page: 788 Date published: (14 October 2010)
DOI: doi:10.1038/467788b

Help with the shortage of professional taxonomists needed to identify organisms (Nature 467, 154–155; 2010) may also come from an unexpected source — social networking on the Internet.

Through social networking, the identification process can be made more efficient while simultaneously spreading real taxonomic knowledge. The facility is available to anyone, unlike other technologies that require specialized equipment.

In its first year of operation, the website iSpot ( has helped 6,000 users to identify 25,000 sightings of some 2,500 species, from lichens to birds. The website works by linking experts (including amateur experts) with beginners through a sophisticated reputation system that encourages users to help and learn from each other.

Eventually, DNA bar-code matching and image recognition might be added to the tools available. But these will be aids, not replacements, for people learning how to identify species.


No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario

Archivo del Blog

Notificación de contenido nuevo

Ingrese su correo electrónico:

Reciba las noticias en su correo electrónico mediante FeedBurner

Reciba las noticias de en:

Follow Filogeneticaorg on Twitter
Siguenos en Facebook



Comenta en Facebook

Lo más reciente en el blog de Morfometría Geométrica