Saturday, July 11, 2015

Specialties in biology can limit

It is often not realized that the basic source of inspiration in biology, namely the endless diversity of life, is also one of its greatest handicaps. Biologists, much more than, say, chemists or mathematicians, tend to be divided by invisible barriers. Those barriers are held in place by expertise with a particular kind of organism. More often than not, biologists identify themselves as entomologists if they work with insects, or as botanists if plants are their thing. Or even as copepodologists, coleopterologists, or cecidomyiidologists (if their creed be copepods, beetles, or cecidomyiid gnats, respectively). And each organism-based field has its own congresses, professional societies, and journals, further affirming separatism. . . .

Biology really moves ahead when somebody dares to cut across all these different subfields and look for general patterns.
Menno Schilthuizen, Nature's Nether Regions: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us About Evolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves (New York: Penguin Books, 2015), p. 4

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