Thread subject: Diptera.info :: Describing a fly
Posted by Adrian on 25-01-2008 15:52
This is a topical issue.
Recent years have seen some fine examples of how NOT to describe a fly new to science which have promted calls for a 'standard' format for descriptions. This is easier said than done because as you point out, what constitutes a full description varies from group to group and in some cases (eg when comparing with a similar already known species), it may not even be desirable. Surely the golden rule has to be that a description includes enough detail to ensure that confusion with currently known species is impossible and that is is very unlikely with any species that might be described in future. The 'rules' determining what this really means can only be agreed upon amongst specialists with experience of the group of flies concerned.
Allied with the problem of constructing a good description is the problem of designating ia new taxon properly. This is increasingly important as electronic data retrieval is commonplace and poorly construted designation could easily be missed. Some of us think that the Code should be exacting in its requirements for desigations to be valid. If a designation is lacking then it should not be allowed in the Code! (if it hasn't got a comma between the author and date its invalid!)
At the last Diptera Congress in Fukuoka there was enthusiastic discussion over this issue and it became apparent that many journal editors as well as individual dipterists were getting vexed at a perceived tendancy towards poor descriptions and inaccurate designations. Where this leads is anybodies guess but it is up to us as Dipterists to strive for better standards throughout.
This could be a whole thread itself