Megataxa 2023-10-01T10:39:46+13:00 Zhi-Qiang Zhang Open Journal Systems <p><strong>Megataxa</strong> is a premium open access journal for important works reporting major advances in taxonomy.</p> <p><strong>Towards digital descriptions of all extant reptile species</strong></p> 2023-10-01T10:39:46+13:00 PETER UETZ YAA ADARKWA DARKO DUSTIN ZELIFF <p align="justify"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: small;">Vertebrate databases have been slow to digitize species descriptions. One of them, the Reptile Database (, has accumulated ~8,000 species descriptions for ~3,000 species of snakes, ~5,000 species of lizards, and ~150 species of turtles and crocodiles. Here we discuss how this data contributes to character analysis, species identification, but also to integration with other data sources such as citizen science observations (which depend on correct identifications). Importantly, the data described here may serve as training data for machine learning projects and we present examples of species comparisons using ChatGPT. While these AI-driven comparisons are still erroneous, we expect substantial improvements in the near future. We request the herpetological community to help complete our public collection of species descriptions and suggest that other species databases follow suit and provide similar data for their taxa.</span></span></span></p> 2023-10-31T00:00:00+13:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited <p><strong>A plea for preregistration in taxonomy</strong></p> 2023-03-21T11:58:51+13:00 STIJN CONIX VINCENT CUYPERS FRANK ZACHOS frank.zachos@NHM-WIEN.AC.AT TOM ARTOIS MARLIES MONNENS <p>There are notoriously many different definitions of species and methods of species delimitation, forcing taxonomists to make a long range of methodological decisions in species delimitation. Because of this, there are sometimes multiple viable competing methodological paths, which could lead to different ranking (or even grouping) decisions. As a result, it is often unclear what it means for a group to be recognized as a species, the groups recognized as species are not always comparable, and some have even called ranking decisions ‘subjective’. To mitigate the problems this causes for users of taxonomy and taxonomists, we propose that taxonomists across the tree of life should start <em>preregistering</em> their research design and criteria for species delimitation in advance of their research. We argue that even if it were to require additional effort, preregistering taxonomic research would strongly benefit taxonomy in the long term, by increasing the transparency and usability of taxonomic outcomes and by reducing the need for <em>ad hoc</em> methodological decisions.</p> 2023-04-27T00:00:00+12:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited <p><strong>Researchers propose preregistration in taxonomy to enhance transparency and credibility and reduce subjectivity</strong> </p> 2023-04-27T19:21:37+12:00 ZHI-QIANG ZHANG <p lang="en-GB" align="justify"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: small;">A new opinion piece published in <em>Megataxa</em> today (Conix <em>et al.</em> 2023) calls for preregistration in the field of taxonomy and discusses its potential benefits and objections. Preregistration is a practice for researchers to document their hypotheses, design and methods of their proposed studies in a public repository before they start the study and collect the data (Nosek <em>et al.</em> 2018). It is believed that preregistration can help reduce bias, increase transparency, and improve study design (especially replicability) of research (<em>e.g.</em> Nosek <em>et al.</em> 2018; Krypotos <em>et al.</em> 2022), including exploratory research such as some aspects of biodiversity discovery and taxonomy (Dirnagl <em>et al.</em> 2020). While preregistration has been already employed in other fields such as social sciences (<em>e.g.</em> Camerer <em>et al. </em>2016, 2018) and ecology/evolution (<em>e.g.</em> Kelly 2019), it has yet been adopted in taxonomy. Conix <em>et al.</em> (2023) argue that preregistration could be beneficial for taxonomy, given the challenges it faces, such as subjectivity, disagreement, and credibility: </span></span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2023-04-27T00:00:00+12:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited <p><strong>Erratum ‘Survey of Linyphiidae (Arachnida: Araneae) spiders from Yunnan, China’</strong></p> 2023-03-29T08:48:14+13:00 MUHAMMAD IRFAN ZHI-SHENG ZHANG XIAN-JIN PENG <p align="justify"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: small;">Linyphiidae Blackwall, 1859 is the second most specious family of spiders, with 4807 species currently recognized in 632 genera (WSC, 2023). An extensive survey of spiders conducted during 1988–2006 in the Gaoligong Mountains and the adjacent areas of Yunnan Province revealed about 110 species belonging to 53 genera, including seven new genera and 76 new species (Irfan <em>et al</em>., 2022).</span></span></span></p> 2023-05-10T00:00:00+12:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited <p><strong>Policing the scientific lexicon: The new colonialism?</strong></p> 2023-05-12T18:29:28+12:00 ROHAN PETHIYAGODA <p align="justify"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: small;">Several recent authors have called for the revision of the common and scientific names associated with taxa, as well as scientific terms, that may be construed as offensive (e.g., Hammer &amp; Thiele, 2021; Cheng <em>et al.</em>, 2023) or inappropriate (<em>e.g.</em>, Gillman &amp; Wright, 2020; Guedes <em>et al</em>., 2023). These proposals have been met with resistance, for example by Palma &amp; Heath (2021—indigenous names), Mosyakin (2022—botany), Slabin (2023—philosophy of science) and all 26 commissioners of the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature (Ceríaco <em>et al.</em>, 2023).</span></span></span></p> 2023-06-13T00:00:00+12:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited <p><strong>Eliminating slurs from the scientific names of algae, fungi, and plants will cause minimal nomenclatural change</strong></p> 2023-07-18T11:31:31+12:00 GIDEON F. SMITH ESTRELA FIGUEIREDO <p align="justify"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: small;">It was recently stated in <em>Megataxa</em> that: “Of course, we have a duty to eliminate obviously hurtful and discriminatory words from the scientific lexicon” (Pethiyagoda (2023: 24). However, contrasting with this statement, Pethiyagoda (2023) broadly supports retention of the status quo regarding the present-day names and epithets in use in the biological sciences, and the terminology used in other sciences. With reference to a proposal to amend the <em>International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants</em> (Turland <em>et al</em>. 2018), adoption of which would eliminate epithets with the root <em>ca[f]f[e]r</em>- from the scientific nomenclature in use for algae, fungi, and plants (Smith &amp; Figueiredo 2021), Pethiyagoda (2023: 21) further stated that: “They [Hammer &amp; Thiele (2021)] cite, for example, a proposal by Smith &amp; Figueiredo (2021)”. This statement is not correct. Both Hammer &amp; Thiele (2021) and Smith &amp; Figueiredo (2021) were published on “15 December 2021”, and Hammer &amp; Thiele (2021) could not have cited Smith &amp; Figueiredo (2021). To prevent any misconceptions that might result from Pethiyagoda’s statement, we here note that Hammer &amp; Thiele (2021) and Smith &amp; Figueiredo (2021) were not aware of each other’s work until it was published.</span></span></span></p> 2023-08-10T00:00:00+12:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Magnolia Press Limited