Talk:Opuntia

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Hey, all:

I have not offered any material to this effort so I don't know what the process is. I noticed an apparent omission in the listing of Opuntia species. Unless it has been reclassified/renamed, O. leptocaulis (tasajillo) should added to the list. The species is found in North America from Texas to California and south into Mexico.

David Messages done with sustainable energy, with Wind and Sun!

Hi. In my opinion, the key is, if you can find a good reference to support it, be bold and add it, otherwise at least put it on the discussion page as you did. Also, not sure if it matters here, but there's been discussion about how Wikispecies's plant taxonomy is currently a mix between two taxonomic systems: APG-II(?) and Chronquist(sp?). I don't know plant taxonomy - just mentioning the major issues I've seen. Rightly or wrongly, I use the USDA's PLANTS Database to fill in blanks when needed, although my main focus is on formatting. For Opuntia leptocaulis, the PLANTS DB gives that as a synonym for Cylindropuntia leptocaulis. That genus is on Wikispecies also, under Cylindropuntieae. Hopefully, someone who knows plant taxonomy can clarify what's going on between Cylindropuntia and Opuntia? --Georgeryp 17:25, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
The genus Cylindropuntia is recognized both on the International Plants Names Index and in the recently published volume 4 of Flora of North America. I'd go with segregating Cylindropuntia on that basis. --EncycloPetey 00:03, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Hey, all:

Hey, Georgeryp: Well, shut my mouth and duct tape my hands. Yeah, after I wrote my comment I did some other checking and found precisely what you state in some other sources. It certainly seems since my favorite local botany reference was published (2005) the genus was reorganized. I will refrain (mostly) from commenting on taxonomists focusing on minutiae, since under the accelerating loss of biodiversity I liken them to Titanic deck chair supervisors.

I was interested in this issue after I recently received an alert on a moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) which is an introduced and likely invasive species from South America which feeds on and kills plants of Opuntia species. I guess then that anything named "Cylindro..." obviously would escape damage from the moth! Whew, that was a close call!

Sincerely, I am aware there is value in detailed taxonomic research, but the priority is misguided.

Thanks for the information on the updated status of my old friend O. leptocaulis.

David

Messages done with sustainable energy, with Wind and Sun!

David, interesting comments but would you agree if the invasive moth were something instead, like policy, law, or funding, then a name change could very well mean escape from harm (or a rush right into it). Granted what nomenclature represents is only this critical at the leaves of the taxonomic tree, while the large limbs of the tree are suitable for carving into those deck chairs you speak of? For the outsider novice that I am, the later half of this article was thought provoking "news" to me: Species inflation - Hail Linnaeus, The Economist, May 17th 2007. So, if I was a polar bear, getting a demotion from Ursus maritimus to below Ursus arctos could be a hazard to my occupation (and existence), especially if my perceived value in my ecosystem happens to get devalued by Homo sapiens too? (the article never addresses this last point: non-taxonomic factors affecting species "inflation") --Georgeryp 04:30, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Hey, all:

Hey, Georgeryp: If I may be so bold, it appears we are close to referring to the same thing in different ways. And while acknowledging the value of taxonomic research, I simply think there are more critical issues, and preserving intact habitats and ecosystems has a far higher order of value. To a large extent, names are artificial and the organisms thus named have no idea of the human baggage imposed on them. But as you say, it is the outcome of the naming process that has such great implications for biotic survival. For the same reasons, I do abhor the politicization of taxonomy and the larger subject of ecology. The biotic community deserves protection on its own terms and without the imposition of human value systems. Furthermore, these value systems are a product of our own selfishness, pretentiousness, and narcissism. We are so wrapped up in our denial and mad rush for wealth and power, we handily ignore the reality that we are merely the most recent winner in the natural selection lottery. The difference this time is that we have now compromised future lotteries. We will likely waste our fortune, but the cash prize left for future winners may not even pay the power bill.

It was intriguing but more alarming to see any article on species and taxonomy in The Economist. Just as I don't rely on Nature for knowledge of interior design, I won't soon be relying on The Economist for biology issues, or on the religious for questions of science. One simple example of the poor understanding revealed: "As new areas are explored, the number of species naturally increases....". This is untrue on many levels and for many reasons and also illustrates our human narcissism. There is nothing "natural" about the increase. The species have always been there for all practical purposes, so it is instead very much an 'artificial' increase. Science has a term, "observer effort", which addresses this phenomenon of effort and result. If a species falls in the Amazon, and there is not a biologist around to hear it, does it have an existence?

Regarding your question on Cylindropuntia and Opuntia, it seems taxonomists have now split Opuntia based on its gross appearance. Traditionally, reproductive (flower, etc.) features and structures have been used to classify plants, and now they have delved secondarily into gross appearance. The typical Opuntia now seem to include mostly those species with flat pad-like cactus stems, and Cylindropuntia has species with more slender cylindrical stems. There are other characteristics of other taxa which I imagine are also addressed but I have not seen any info on them.

I just learned about Wikispecies, but I must say I am not nearly as enthusiastic about it as merely a listing and organizational activity, as different from the actual biology of species found in Wikipedia. The biology is rich and infinitely varied, whereas merely listing is dry and lifeless. I also think this separation is highly artificial, unnecessary, and unwise, but it looks like it is done. I will focus on the biology.

Please forgive the length, and I just learned how to end these messages with username and timestamp. Maybe later I'll find out how to get these messages to indent!

David Bluestem 20:02, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Messages done with sustainable energy, with Wind and Sun!

Thanks for your reply. I think I agree with most of what you say, save: "...this separation is highly artificial, unnecessary, and unwise..." (of Wikispecies from Wikipedia, I assume). Two points in defense of the separation (which is addressed from other viewpoints elsewhere):
  1. There are many species (or entire branches) that may not get an article on Wikispecies for the foreseeable future. People could start making small "stub" placeholder articles en masse but I think many would frown on that. Instead, Wikispecies serves that function in a sense. (Earlier in Wikipedia's history, someone wrote a program/bot to quickly create stubs for something like all the towns in the United States. A controversial move at the time, but many of the stubs have since been filled out into articles... I'm not sure if that would happen for the much more numerous species)
  2. Wikispecies, hopefully more so in the future, can serve as a common point a reference for all the multi-language Wikipedias - saving time and building consensus in one place for taxonomy across the Wikipedias. If there is any value in the "taxoboxes" that exist on Wikipedia articles, I hope at some point the software that drives these web sites can directly use the common information from Wikispecies to populate the small portions of the articles (just taxoboxes and interwikis?) on all the Wikipedias. This could work automatically in much the same way the Wikimedia Commons provides images (and other media) to all the Wikipedias without having to upload them separately on each. This way, Wikipedia contributors don't have to be distracted by the minutiae of cross-language discrepancies or then have to update changes in each language - they can spend more time on the biology... --Georgeryp 05:53, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Indenting is done with one or more colons at the very beginning of a line

Opuntia bigelovii[edit]

Per conversation above and PLANTS Database, moved Opuntia bigelovii under Cylindropuntia (as Cylindropuntia bigelovii) --Georgeryp 18:41, 17 August 2007 (UTC)