Talk:Alpha taxonomy

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alpha taxonomy[edit]

This page needs some explanation of why alpha taxonomy is called alpha taxonomy, and how it differs from other forms or schools or branches of taxonomy. DGG 03:00, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

"This is sometimes known as molecular systematics and is doing well, likely at the expense of taxonomy (Wheeler, 2004)." - This contradicts itself; while molecular systematics (as a technology) does not really plays the role for alpha taxonomy it does for systematics (as sciences), it is just one viable method among others to gather data for alpha taxonomy. I'd rather say it invigorates alpha taxonomy, especially in the long run. What Wheeler seems to complain about is rather lax standards due to the early 2000s (decade) trend to consider molecular evidence alone (see also molecular barcoding debate) Dysmorodrepanis 03:01, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

The update doesn't make much more sense: "This is sometimes known as molecular systematics which is becoming increasingly more common, perhaps at the expense of traditional morphological taxonomy." Morphological taxonomy is conceptually invalid, therefore of course more scientifically rigorous methods are becoming common at its expense. -- (talk) 02:09, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

I beg your pardon? "Conceptually invalid"? You are aware that DNA data is unavailable for the wast majority of organisms, and will remain so for almost all fossil forms? You do know that genetic information needs to be interpreted and understood in order to make phylogenies, just like morphological data? As far as I know, most serious taxonomists use bout sets of data. The sentence is fine as it is. Petter Bøckman (talk) 12:16, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Taxonomic Classification for Non-Earth Organisms?[edit]

Suppose we find a new type of organism on a completely different planet. What will happen in terms of taxonomic classifications? Will a new domain be added here, or will there be a higher taxon added to the alpha taxonomic system superior to domain, indicating planet of origin? Scetoaux 05:53, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

That would depend on the relatedness (or not) of the two groups. Suppose (purely hypothetically) that some living (or fossil) micro-organisms were found on Mars (or Europa, or Titan, etc). If evidence could be found that they are descendants of life on Earth (or vice versa, or both have a common non-Terrestrial origin) then they would belong (somewhere) in the same tree of life. (See [panspermia].) The fact that they lived on different planets would not affect their classification (any more than being from different continents, islands, river valleys on Earth would.) If they had no common ancestor with life on Earth, then they would represent an entirely separate abiogenesis event. The tree of life would become a forest. If so, it would be possible that their system of genetic inheritance might not be based on RNA/DNA at all.

Similarly, if it could be shown that life on earth had evolved twice (i.e. that there were two abiogenesis events in Earth's history, and examples of both survived either as living organisms or fossils) then the existing tree of life would have to be split into two separate trees. It is known, I believe, from DNA analysis that all existing organisms studied on Earth had a single original ancestor, so this is very, very unlikely. The point is that all organisms share the same tree because they are all believed to be related to each other. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:23, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Addition of "domain"?[edit]

Seems like the rank grouping "domain" has little to do with alpha taxonomy per se, and more to do with bolting on a higher-level grouping that few alpha taxonomists actually use... but perhaps others disagree... Certainly I wouldn't call it traditionally within the "domain" [pun intended] of alpha taxonomy!!! My understanding of alpha taxonomy is it is more tied in to the species group level, though certainly in generic groupings and with cascading changes upwards... But what alpha taxonomist works at the domain level?!? WhyAskWhyNot 03:17, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Inclusion or removal of reference to traditional rank groups[edit]

April 10 edit included comment "Minus curious and unreferenced statement about levels (what tradition? where?)", and removal of: "Traditionally there are seven major levels of taxonomy (though alpha taxonomy traditionally focuses more on the specific and infraspecific level): Kingdom, Phylum (for animals) or Division (for plants and fungi), Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species."

"Curious and unreferenced statements" about taxaonomic levels and traditions?? OK, I'll bite:

These ranks are absolutely "traditional" in biological taxonomy. As to whether they belong in this article or not, I leave that to others to decide. I found prior versions of that paragraph getting carried away with higher-level classification (even to the point of putting "domain" in too, though it has little or nothing to do with alpha taxonomy per se!), and focused it a little more on the species group arena where much "alpha taxonomy" takes place. On second thought, I do think this information belongs here. I'll try to phrase it a little less "curiously." WhyAskWhyNot 01:49, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

No. there has been a tradition of some schoolbooks to present these levels, but not elsewhere. In alpha taxonomy they are irrelevant: in most of the real literature they are not present. Hierarchies are for amateurs only. Not in science. Hiplis 11:36, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Please see the link I provided above, which is to a relevant Article from the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN, which is produced by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy), which is clearly unrelated to schoolbooks. This is a fundamental set of rules to which all botanists must adhere in their use of nomenclature w/regards to taxomic names. Here's the relevant part:
International Code of Botanical Nomenclature
(Saint Louis Code), Electronic version
Article 3
3.1. The principal ranks of taxa in descending sequence are: kingdom (regnum), division or phylum (divisio, phylum), class (classis), order (ordo), family (familia), genus (genus), and species (species). Thus, each species is assignable to a genus, each genus to a family, etc.
There is a corresponding zoological Code (the ICZN), although it explicitly regulates only names between the family-group ranks (superfamily down) through genus group ranks, and to the species group ranks (including subspecies). I do not know how you can claim they are "for amatures only" and "not in science." Where did you get this bizarre idea? WhyAskWhyNot 14:43, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
So, how is this relevant? Such things as you quote above should be dealt with in the relevant pages. Not everything that comes to mind should be cited in every entry. You could also put a lengthy treatise here about what constitutes a species (it would be a lot more relevant than your favorite material) or a lengthy treatise about what constitues good museum practice concerning specimens (also a lot more relevant). Give me a break. Hiplis 08:41, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Wow. I believe the relevancy has been established in the entry, if you would take a moment to read it. Ranks are relevant as alpha taxonomy focuses on a particular subset of them in contrast to some other related sciences. It's called context. Give you a break? This discussion stems from your hyperbole (see above!), and now we see it again: I see no lengthy treatise under discussion in this article (whatever is it you mean by my "favorite material?"), just TWO sentences that provide relevant context. Maybe we can all give/get a break.WhyAskWhyNot 01:04, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I am seeing no trace of relevance, only misdirection. The entry is about alpha taxonomy, not about the schoolbook idea that taxonomy is about hierarchies (this gets ample exposure elsewhere in wikipedia). Well, if these two sentences are not your favourite material why are you pushing not only for including them, but putting them at the very front of the entry, and for displacing the actual definition of the topic by them? And no, you did not put in a lengthy treatise on items that are more relevant to the topic. Maybe you should read before starting to hit your keyboard? Hiplis 11:27, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Mnemonic Phrase[edit]

Maybe someone could add to the article somewhere what my bio teacher said as a mnemonic phrase:

Kinky People Cry Out For Good Sex

alternative being:

Kinky People Can Often Find Good Sex 22:52, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Maybe not. (talk) 20:49, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Merge with Taxonomy?/New Title[edit]

I REALLY dislike the title of this article. It looks like the web taxonomy definition is has taken over Taxonomy article. At this point, discussion of biological taxonomy is pretty minimal there (yet based on the comments at Talk:Taxonomy, many people expect it to focus more on biological taxonomy. In my opinion, this article should either be renamed Taxonomy (biological), or should merged with Taxonomy. An article on Alpha Taxonomy is not necessarily inappropriate, but I see no mention of beta or gamma taxonomy anywhere on Wikipedia (it seems like an overall article on taxonomy, defining alpha, beta and gamma would exist before alpha taxonomy gets its own article. Certainly, there should be some discussion of the meaning of the word "alpha" in relation to "beta" and "gamma" in this article.

"For a long time the term "taxonomy" was unambiguous, but over time it has gained several other meanings and thus became potentially confusing. To some extent it is being replaced, in its original (and narrow) meaning, by "alpha taxonomy"" I disagree with this assertion, and would like to see it supported with a citation. Biologists still use the word taxonomy, although there certainly is a trend to say to "systematics" rather than "taxonomy" (in the beta taxonomy sense).

The term "alpha taxonomy" is certainly used by biologist, but it's very technical-there are 25,000 Google hits for "biological taxonomy", and 9230 for "alpha taxonomy" (and surely many more hits for "taxonomy" in relation to biology that wouldn't match the strict phrase "biological taxonomy"

In several places, this article confuses "alpha taxonomy" with "taxonomy" in a broad sense; e.g. " of defining, describing and categorising organisms. "Categorising" is beta taxonomy by definition. Discussion of taxonomic ranks is also irrelevant to alpha taxonomy (except in so far as binomial nomenclature involves the use of 2 ranks).

Note that the Taxonomy article describes nested hierarchies (in a variety of disciplines), while the Alpha Taxonomy article purports to only discuss naming of organisms. In short, the "systematic" side of taxonomy is not appropriate to an article on "Alpha taxonomy", yet the current "Taxonomy" article largely ignores biology but deals with the "systematic" side of taxonomies.

In short, Alpha Taxonomy is NOT a synonym for Taxonomy in a biological sense. It's misleading for this article to treat it as such (Unsigned comment added by User: at 03:38 18 December 2007)

i think merge is a good idea. (talk) 07:36, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, absolutely (see also question by DGG in the beginning of the talk page). This should be merged to Biological classification or better Biological taxonomy. "Biological classification" is insufficiently specific because there are many different types of biological objects to classify. This is actually Biological classification of species.Biophys (talk) 20:00, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
From what I have read of the use of the word (Fortey's Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum) Alpha taxonomy is about finding and describing species, and classifying them with their nearest relatives (typically at the genus level). This article does not reflect this. Is it Fortey who's wrong, does the word have different meanings on each side of Atlantic, or is it just not very well written? If on-one objects, I will rewrite. Petter Bøckman (talk) 18:55, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
I thought that "alpha taxonomy" is a rarely used synonym of "taxonomy" (the biological classification of species). Regardless, rewrite is very welcome.Biophys (talk) 22:34, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
I have rewritten the article a bit, I hope it has legs to stand on its own now. Petter Bøckman (talk) 22:13, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

The chapter "auctor" should be reworded, the term "auctor" is not widely used. This seems to be some insider slang rather than a widely used and accepted term. The person to describe a taxonomic name is commonly called the author (see author (zoology)). It is also the term used in the ICZN Code, in the Code's Glossary the term "auctor" is referred to as a Latin expression for which the English translation is "author".

"Panthera tigris, (L 1758)" violates the ICZN Code (no comma between name and author = Art. 51.2; authors shall not be abbreviated = Appendix B 12), the whole passage should be deleted. --FranciscoWelterSchultes (talk) 14:26, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

The whole section called "auctors" has very little applicability under "Alpha taxonomy"... It has been written with a decidedly (and oddly) botanical slant... not that there is anything wrong with that in an appropriate context, but there is no reason to clutter up a general "alpha taxonomy" entry with kingdom-specific nomenclatural trivia. WhyAskWhyNot (talk) 07:08, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

I am not sure you're ever going to come up with a stable and accepted definition of alpha taxonomy, party because the term is used in many (loose) ways, partly because views of it have continued to morph (with descent) over time, and partly because it is a relatively casual term to start with. I personally feel it is not well represented now on Wikipedia, but it might best end up as a chapter or two under biological taxonomy...!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by WhyAskWhyNot (talkcontribs) 07:25, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Validity of new species[edit]

The sentence For the new species to be valid, the formal description must be published in a scientific journal is marked with a "dubious" tag. Isn't the rules fairly clear on the matter of publication, despite what constitutes a scientific journal being up for discussion? Petter Bøckman (talk) 13:31, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Since there has been no reply, I'll remove the tag.Petter Bøckman (talk) 13:43, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Drastic trimming proposal[edit]

I've added a paragraph about the original meaning of the term "alpha taxonomy". As far as I know, that is the sense in which the term is still used by professional taxonomists, although some do add microscopic examination of cytology, including chromosome counts, chemistry, and responses to various biological stains to alpha taxonomic methods. (Those latter techniques were less developed in Turrill's time, and chromosome counting and subsequently chemotaxonomy became very informative to taxonomy a few decades later.) My reading of the paper by Quentin Wheeler that is cited is consistent with Turrill's original definition. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the book by Richard Fortey (2008. Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum), which is cited on the page. My preference would be to drastically trim this page to little more than Turrill's definition; almost all the other material is, or should be, duplicated elsewhere. The last paragraph seems to me to mostly revolve around the sentence "Higher ranking taxa (including clades and grades) mostly are the province of "beta taxonomy", more commonly called systematics.", which is unsourced and I think is dubious. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 18:33, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

Agreed In my view alpha-taxonomy is concerned with the delineation of species. Nothing more. I can see value in linking this article to other articles on the other forms of taxonomy, but I see no need for repetition in doing so. So careful pruning it back to the original definition with appropriate links would seem adequate. Faendalimas talk 18:50, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
Support. However, the article also needs to clearly define alpha taxonomy in layperson language, ideally from several sources that concur, rather than rely heavily on esoteric nods to theoretical and undefined "omega" taxonomy (which I've never heard used in practice, but on searching seems to be used in a similarly unhelpful philosophical sense). The usage today in practice may indeed be different than Turill's definition, and relying too much on the original can confuse laypersons and scientists alike. Of course, clear, succinct, referenced explanations are needed, even if the reference is a simple dictionary of biology. I also think that beta diversity does need mentioning in respect to alpha taxonomy, since it is a widely used term. From what I understand, alpha is the description of a species (which need not invoke any evolutionary or classification hierarchy), while beta taxonomy is the sorting (be it Linnaean or cladistic) of alpha units, that themselves do not change based on classification. --Animalparty-- (talk) 21:06, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
I think it would be better to make the relevant parts of this article into a section within Taxonomy (biology). There is no universally agreed definition of either term, and certainly not one that sharply separates them, but it does seem to me that "alpha taxonomy" is a topic within "biological taxonomy" and so would best be treated there. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:46, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
Sounds good to me, once trimmed it could fit well. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:19, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
Comment. I've added a 1965 citation which uses the term in the sense mentioned above, to mean delineation of species. It looks as if it is coining the term in that sense. (The text of the article mentions new techniques causing a spurt in the rate of descriptions.) Perhaps more citations are needed? Sminthopsis84 (talk) 13:19, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Trimmed and merged. The other language wikipedias might not be appropriately linked, but I think there was rather a mess with the links anyway, due to the existence of biological classification as well as taxonomy (biology), and the lack of any concept of taxonomy (general) in some of the languages. I don't think this makes that situation any worse. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 18:06, 20 March 2014 (UTC)