Such expressions as that famous one of Linnæus, and which we often meet with in a more or less concealed form, that the characters do not make the genus, but that the genus gives the characters, seem to imply that something more is included in our classification, than mere resemblance. I believe that something more is included; and that propinquity of descent,—the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings,—is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications (Darwin, 1859, p. 413f).

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Adventures with my DNA Barcoder

"But humanity is bioilliterate. Yes, there is a high priest for the name and natural history of some species. That person, however, is almost never standing by your side. But with Google, can you get it? No, there is no hole in your computer or handheld into which to insert the biobit to link through Google. Who is going to give you that name in the dark, the rain, the backyard, or the rain forest? True bioliteracy is being able to link what humanity knows to the biodiversity in hand, eye, or mouth, and build on it. What is the cost to let all seven billion of us read wild biodiversity, now? The barcorder in the back pocket" (Janzen, 2010, Biotropica, 42:540-542).

Thursday, 25th
I am so excited! Today I bought my DNA Barcoder from the gift shop at my local natural history museum. It comes with a two page booklet that tells me I need 6 AAA batteries and something to barcode.

Friday, 26th
I went down to the university to show my new barcoder to my sister. She needs lots of fresh tissue to do her molecular work and always complains that her specimens are either too old or contaminated. "Not with this!" I told her. She looked at me and my barcoder and started laughing. Stuck-up cow.

Saturday, 27th
Today is my first barcoding day (it rained all week, so there was nothing to barcode). I barcoded my cat, which it turns out, is 'human'. Perhaps it's because humans and cats are closely related? Perhaps I need something more distantly related?

Sunday, 28th
I barcoded an ant that I found crawling behind the sofa. The barcoder tells me it's a fungus. I see no other ants. Later on I find a honey bee trapped in my kitchen window. It comes up as a 'geranium'. The barcoder really needs to be calibrated or something.

Wednesday, 1st
Finally, a hot and sunny day! I tried to entice a bird with bread crumbs. No luck.

Thursday, 2nd
Couldn't get close enough to the house sparrows in my park to barcode them. I barcoded various trees in the arboretum. Amazing! The barcoder gets it right every time. There was only one plant sign in the whole park that was wrong!

Sunday, 5th
What a day! Yesterday morning I found a whip snake sunning itself on my porch. I managed to barcode it before it bit me in self defense. Luckily the hospital knew which anti-venom to use because my trusty barcoder got it right again!

Tuesday, 7th
I’m going to be famous! I barcoded a cicada and found that it was 7 different species! I rushed down to the local natural history museum to tell them of the news. Perhaps they can name a news species after me? Apparently the museum barcodes species from all over world and no longer employs taxonomists (the ones who describe new species). A barcoding technician pointed out several local amateur entomological groups I could join. "That's where you find taxonomists now" he said. Perhaps I’ll try Google.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Publications for 2010

Below is our list of publications for 2010. For those with no access to the links, will be happy to provide pdf copies on request.
      Christenhusz, MJM., Baker, W., Chase, MW., Fay, MF., Lehtonen, S., Van Ee, B., Von Konrat, M., Lumbsch, T., Renzaglia, KS., Shaw, J., Williams, DM and Zhang, Z-Q. (2010). The first anniversary of Phytotaxa in the International Year of Biodiversity. Phytotaxa, 15: 1–8.
      Ebach, M.C. (2010). Paleobiological Revolution: Essays on the Growth of Modern Paleontology. Systematic Biology, 59: 753-755.
      Ebach, M.C. (2010). A new book on biogeography. Cladistics, 26: 560-562.
      Ebach, M.C. and de Carvalho M.R. (2010). Anti-intellectualism and the DNA Barcoding Enterprise. Zoologia, 27: 165-178 [access free pdf here]. 
      Ebach, M.C. and Williams D.M. (2010). Aphyly: A Systematic Designation for a Taxonomic Problem. Evolutionary Biology, 37: 123-127.
      Ebach, M.C. and Williams D.M. (2010). Systematics and Biogeography: Cladistics and Vicariance. Systematic Biology, 59: 612-614.
      Parenti, L.R. and Ebach, M.C. (2010). Wallacea Deconstructed. In D.M. Williams & S. Knapp (eds.), Beyond Cladistics: The Branching of a Paradigm. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 303-318.
      Reid, G. and Williams, D.M. (2010). Notes on the genus Semiorbis Patrick with a description of a new species. Diatom Research, 25: 355—365.
      Toyoda, K, Nagumo, T. and Williams, DM. (2010). A new marine monoraphid species, Achnanthes pseudolongipes sp. nov. From Miyagi, Japan. Diatom Research, 25: 185—193.
      Tuji, A, Williams, D.M, Sims, P.A, and Tanimura, Y. (2009) [2010] An Illustrated Catalogue of Type Specimens from the H.M.S. Challenger Voyage in Castracane’s Slide Collection in the Natural History Museum, London. In: Joint Haeckel and Ehrenberg project: Re-examination of the Haeckel and Ehrenberg Microfossil Collections as a Historical and Scientific Legacy Y. Tanimura and Y. Aita, eds). National Museum of Nature and Science Monographs, No. 40, pp. 7—11.
        Williams, D.M. (2010). Historical biogeography, microbial endemism and the role of classification: everything is endemic. In Biogeography of microorganisms.  Is everything small everywhere? (Fontaneto, D, ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 11—31.
            Williams, D.M, Chudaev, D.A, Lomonosov, M.V and Gololobova, MA.. (2010). Punctastriata glubokoensis spec. nov., a new species of ‘Fragilarioid’ diatom from lake Glubokoe, Russia. Diatom Research, 24: 479—485.
            Williams D.M. and Ebach, M.C. (2010). Molecular Systematics and the Blender of Optimization: Is There a Crisis in Systematics? Systematics and Biodiversity, 4:481-484. 
            Williams, D.M, Ebach, M.C. and Wheeler, Q.D (2010). Beyond belief: the steady resurrection of phenetics. In D.M. Williams & S. Knapp (eds.), Beyond Cladistics: The Branching of a Paradigm. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 169-197.
            Williams, DM and Kociolek, JP. (2010). Classifications of Convenience: The Meaning of Names. Diatom Research 25: 213—216. Williams, DM and Morales, EM. (2010). Pseudostaurosira medliniae, a new name for Pseudostaurosira elliptica (Gasse) Jung et Medlin. Diatom Research 25: 225—226.
              Yanling Li, Williams, D.M, Metzeltin, D., Kociolek, J.P. and Zhijun Gong (2010). Tibetiella pulchra gen. nov. et sp. nov., a new freshwater epilithic diatom (Bacillariophyta) from River Nujiang in Tibet, China. Journal of Phycology, 46: 325—330.