Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    HSGP Meeting: "Fact-based Biodiversity Sustainability"


    On June 19th, the HSGP will host a presentation by entomologist, Quentin Wheeler. Dr. Wheeler follows in the footsteps of Carl Linnaeus with his goal of establishing a taxonomy of beetle populations around the world.  Beyond simply creating a laundry list of species, Dr. Wheeler focuses on the broader implications of generating such taxonomies.  Specifically, a comprehensive map of global species distributions could aid in assessing the impact of climate change or the introduction of a non-native species on biodiversity, thus facilitating and guiding efforts at conservation.

    In a 2004 paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Wheeler argued vehemently for a return to taxonomic research, suggesting that no understanding of a species' origins is complete without a thorough grounding in its taxonomic context.  Wheeler closed his call to action by stating:

    Had Linnaeus had the kinds of digital tools available today to visually describe and share morphological and species knowledge, it is doubtful that taxonomy would have lost ground in funding or prestige. The time is at hand for taxonomy to take its rightful place among big sciences and to lead society in a meaningful response to the biodiversity crisis (p. 580).

    Please join us at the Humanist Community Center on Sunday to take part in what is bound to be a lively discussion following Dr. Wheeler's presentation.  More information on the HSGP can be found at our website,

    Wheeler, Q. D. (2004). Taxonomic triage and the poverty of phylogeny. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B, 359, 571-583.[link]


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