- The taxonomist - an endangered race : a practical proposal for its survival (2011)
- Background: Taxonomy or biological systematics is the basic scientific discipline of biology, postulating hypotheses of identity and relationships, on which all other natural sciences dealing with organisms relies. However, the scientific contributions of taxonomists have been largely neglected when using species names in scientific publications by not citing the authority on which they are based. Discussion: Consequences of this neglect is reduced recognition of the importance of taxonomy, which in turn results in diminished funding, lower interest from journals in publishing taxonomic research, and a reduced number of young scientists entering the field. This has lead to the so-called taxonomic impediment at a time when biodiversity studies are of critical importance. Here we emphasize a practical and obvious solution to this dilemma. We propose that whenever a species name is used, the author(s) of the species hypothesis be included and the original literature source cited, including taxonomic revisions and identification literature - nothing more than what is done for every other hypothesis or assumption included in a scientific publication. In addition, we postulate that journals primarily publishing taxonomic studies should be indexed in ISISM. Summary: The proposal outlined above would make visible the true contribution of taxonomists within the scientific community, and would provide a more accurate assessment for funding agencies impact and importance of taxonomy, and help in the recruitment of young scientists into the field, thus helping to alleviate the taxonomic impediment. In addition, it would also make much of the biological literature more robust by reducing or alleviating taxonomic uncertainty. Keywords: Taxonomy crisis; taxonomic impediment; impact factor; original species description; citation index; systematics
- Unravelling the underestimated diversity of Philippine water monitor lizards (Squamata: Varanus salvator complex) : with the description of two new species and a new subspecies (2010)
- Recently, the first part of the morphological revision of the Southeast Asian water monitor lizards of the Varanus salvator (Laurenti, 1768) species group provided a taxonomic overview over the members of this successful and widespread species complex (Koch et al. 2007). There, the Philippine taxa marmoratus, nuchalis and cumingi were reelevated to species status due to diagnostic morphological characteristics, e.g. significantly enlarged scales on the neck region. In this second part of the ongoing revision, these three species are re-investigated using additional voucher specimens and advanced statistical techniques including canonical variates analysis and principal component analysis. Our new investigations indicate that V. marmoratus represents a composite species, comprising at least three distinct taxa. Hence, the populations of the Sulu Archipelago (Tawi-Tawi Island) and those of the Palawan region are described as new species, viz. Varanus rasmusseni sp. nov. and V. palawanensis sp. nov., respectively. The allopatric island populations of V. cumingi inhabiting Samar, Leyte, and Bohol (the East Visayan subregion) show characteristic and geographically correlated colour patterns distinct from the type locality Mindanao (the second subregion of Greater Mindanao), warranting subspecific partition of this species. The new subspecies is named V. cumingi samarensis ssp. nov. In contrast, the taxonomic status of V. nuchalis remained unchanged, although this species shows some considerable variation in colour pattern. The systematic chapters are supplemented with notes about biology and conservation status. The hitherto underestimated diversity and zoogeography of Philippine water monitors is discussed in the light of Pleistocene sea level fluctuations. Finally, we introduce a scenario for the evolution and spread of Southeast Asian water monitor lizards and provide an identification key for the Philippine members of the V. salvatoI' complex.