Wednesday, 17 March 2010

J. O. Westwood medal for insect taxonomy

In 2006, the Royal Entomological Society established a prestigious award aiming to encourage insect taxonomy particularly revisionary work resulting in definitive monographs---the J. O. Westwood Medal for excellence in insect taxonomy. The award is given biennially and nominations for the 2012 medal are currently being accepted for papers published between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2011.

The award honours John Obadiah Westwood (1805-1893), who was an influential British entomologist who was instrumental in establishing the Royal Entomological Society and was an original proponent of the use of type species for genera.

Since its establishment, the medal has been given out twice. Marianne Horak was the first recipient in 2008 for her work on Australian tortricid moths. This year's recipient is Art Borkent for his 2008 work on world fauna of the frog-biting midges (Corethrellidae), published in Zootaxa. Both recipients received glowing reports from the assessment panel including such phrases as "A monumental work ... absolutely exemplary" and "A true model for the taxonomic/systematic treatment of a taxon." Unfortunately, due to the nature of monographs, these tomes are big and expensive to publish which makes it difficult for those of us who want to learn from these masters to get hold of a copy of these papers and model our own work on them.

Congratulations to Art Borkent and, more belatedly, Marianne Horak for their superb achievements. While taxonomy may not be in most enviable of situations and despite the moaning of we taxonomists, publications and awards such as these demonstrate that it's not dead yet...

Borkent A. 2008. The frog-biting midges of the world (Corethrellidae: Diptera). Zootaxa 1804:1--456

Horak M. 2006.
The Olethreutine moths of Australia (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Series 10:1--528, CSIRO publishing.

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