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Stan (C.S.) Woods[edit]

  • Cedric: Ced - Saxon; Ric/Rex - King. But, I'm a Celt, not a Saxon!
    • used in my native (Northern) Ireland.
  • Stan/Stanley: Father's given name [John Thamas Stanley Woods]
    • used in New Zealand where I moved at 25, trying not to be mistaken for a Pom.
  • Skis/SKIS: coined, 1988, for my biodiversity monitoring tool, the SKI-System.

[[/== Own Sandbox == The Mandrill and the Dog's Breakfast.]]


I'm a taxonomist, and proud of it. We are not the down-trodden no-hopers that other scientists frown upon in these unenlightened days. We are on a come back with a massive job to do. See: WHEELER, Quentin D., 2004 Taxonomic triage and the poverty of Phylogeny Phil. Trans. Roy Soc. London, Biology (2004) 359: 571-583. Part 2 of a 19 part series (pp. 559-739) on "Taxonomy in the Twenty-first Century".

Currently, my mission is to promote ideas from this hugely important paper. It promises a transformation of all aspects of Taxonomy and its application to current Biodiversity problems. The implications could and should be profound for science and society.

Wheeler (2004) explains (and there are messages for WikiMedia here) how Taxonomy has been in decline for decades, sacrificed to molecular genetics and monetary values. He points to its proud heritage, recent sad history, and to a necessary important future for Classical Taxonomy - to see us through the worst of the current biodiversity crisis /mass extinction event. He sees cladistics /phylogenietics as valid science, but as madness in the ways it has been over-indulged, and used only superficially. He would relegate it to one facet to support a revitalised Classical Taxonomy. Please read it, and/or ask me to e-mail you a series of quotes from the paper along with my comments.

The above is the current chapter in my decades-long mission (always a loosing battle, until now hopefully). Taxonomy is basic to Ecology and Conservation. My main thrust to date is a taxonomic coding system that utilises a complete, but pragmatic, Biological Classification as an Index for the management of species-related information. For this I created a total list of Families (7000+). These are classified in ORDERS which are in a traditional quasi-evolutionary sesquence - ie, a predictable sequence. This coded, hierarchical list has not found favour; professional biologists are (absolutely) reluctant to be associated with a less-than-perfect listing. I'm

Previously), but still current as a good idea in need of lift-off, is my format for biodiversity identification keys (publihsed as "Freshwater Life in Ireland; keys and checklists ..." Irish University Press." (1974). Other aspirations include promoting a new type of aquaculture - pond systems that can be both highly productive and sustainable while requiring no food inputs - in situ algal growth (Cyanophytes) suffices. I've done the research and got good results; development needs to be tuned to local conditions but could be adapted to supply food to vast numbers of people in remote areas and crowded cities. An abbreviated account is published in "Aquaculture" Amsterdam.


Taxonomist? I didn't have any other chance, not really. As a weak child, I looked at nature - mostly into water, hour after hour. Water, because the creepy crawlies couldn't easily escape. From this, I learned how to keep fishes and local wildlife for ages, how to rear eggs into fish and frogs and eventually how to "keep" Mammals and Birds in total freedom outdoors, but in contact with me, simply by understanding many nusances of their needs. This I rate as one of the facets of my claim to be a Taxonomist. Early on, my favourite activity was a walk along a local canal/river with my father. He found it necessary (in 1945) to start the Ulster Aquarium Society (the first aquarist group in Ireland) so as to get enough people together to answer all my questions (family joke). By the time I left high school I knew where to find more species of freshwater leeches Hirudinoida (Sub-class) than all experts had discovered for the British Isles. Also, I knew all Irish species of freshwater flatworms and freshwater snails and something about the lives of almost everything else. In 1974 I would publish a key that identifies nearly 200 species and lists over 600 of the species - all the Irish freshwater species that are large enough to be seen without a handlens; it contains 360 figures (my own b&w sketches). I had developed these keys for use when I was teaching biology in Wallace High School, Lisburn. This followed four years in Queen's University Belfast studying Zoology, Botany, Geology and Chemistry. In addition to the river - my earliest 'university' - I got inspiration from the animals, plants and staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens Park, Belfast, with its fabulous collections. These, and a huge Glass House (which pre-dates the Palm House at Kew Gardens, London), a glassed in 'Tropical Ravine', and the Ulster Museum where early examples of our civilisation's developing interest in nature and natural history. In the Museum, I tended tropical aquaria on public display (donated by my father) and consorted with the professionals and did holiday jobs. I grew up very close to all these facilities. In every other way we were poor.

So, you see, I had become a taxonomist long before I 'got my ticket' (eventually a PhD). From teaching in Northern Ireland, I jumped, on a whim, to New Zealand where, in a fisheries job (EIR), I quickly collected many thousands of freshwater fishes - all now in museums. From these I sorted out much of the taxonomy of the freshwater fishes as first reviewer of the established taxonomy (after Stokell, 1953). I made accurate drawings of a chosen "typical" specimen of each species as the basis for a book (1963). In this, using Stokell's nomenclature, I added information about their biology and ecology. I discovered the life histories of some species that go to sea as fry and return as juveniles, outlined geographic ranges, and, for some, determined population structure. More 'tricky' theoretical work (including many name changes) with these fishes earned me a PhD (Univ. of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ, 1968). Then to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on a PDF where I worked with fish taxonomists, learned about the local environment and ecology, and was introduced to global environmental considertions. I took these considertions back to Ireland - to the "South", to Galway - a place and a way of life that is magical.

Observing the UN Stockholm Conference on the Environment and the Oil Shock of the 1970s honed my environmentalist skills, but these were rooted in my keen observation of nature. I had to learn more: the Sahara was an obvious laboratory and classroom for a freshwater biologist who knew, as I did, about Climate Change (publication 1975). So I had five years (in two stints) teaching and researching in the Sahara. Part of this involved research into aquaculture, informed by intriguing desert conditions. When it becomes my top priority and I get half a chance, I will demonstrate a new form of sustainable aquaculture (most aquaculture is no longer sustainable). Back in New Zealand, and a second Government job - but my first ever desk job: I was advising on freshwater conservation, but bureaucracy will not turn its head easily. I used the opportunity of an excellent library service to research a task that was in my job description, but I had to leave in order to further it. This became SKIS, the SKI-System.Stanskis 01:41, 3 August 2005 (UTC)


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