RE: scientific nomenclature and Australian Geographic

To: 'Tim Dolby' <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>
Subject: RE: scientific nomenclature and Australian Geographic
From: "Riley, Kathy" <>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 14:10:48 +1000
Hi Tim,

I was sorry to read your recent email, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to 
clarify AG's position on these matters.

First, I apologise unreservedly for misunderstanding your meaning when you told 
me that Stuart was the new BA Vic convenor. I took that to mean he was the BA 
Vic twitchathon convenor. As you already mentioned, you had been away when I 
initially tried to contact you - by the time you were able to check the text, 
we were almost ready to go to print. This is by no means an excuse, rather an 
explanation, for why I overlooked this detail.

Your other changes were not correcting errors of fact; rather, you added a 
quote that restated a fact already in the article. As we were constrained for 
space, which I explained to you in my original email, I didn't take in your 

Many experts helped us with the preparation of the birds feature - indeed, many 
experts help us with every story in the magazine. The assistance of experts 
such as yourself is crucial to maintaining the accuracy and reputation of 
Australian Geographic, and we'd be lost without them. Unfortunately, however, 
we can't acknowledge each expert individually. You'll see that no-one was 
thanked specifically for their assistance with the birds feature. The exception 
to this is the birds booklet, where we included acknowledgements to the four 
experts who helped us choose the list.

We try to send complimentary copies of the journal to those who have helped us. 
I remember that I asked you for your address in order to do this. If you 
haven't received your copy, please let me know and I'll make sure another is 
posted to you.

Regarding the "lower case letters for common names" debate - unfortunately this 
is a lament we hear often from our experts, particularly in relation to birds. 
For some reason, this is a style that was established when the journal was 
first founded in 1986, and it's been in place ever since. I acknowledge that 
it's not ideal for many with a more scientific bent, and that it can lead to 
ambiguities - for example, the "little penguin". Unfortunately, a 20-year-old 
tradition in a highly regarded magazine is not an easy one to budge!

I hope this goes some way toward explaining our position in these matters. 
Again, I'm sorry to hear of your disappointment with the latest issue.

Kind regards

Kathy Riley
Deputy Editor
Australian Geographic

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Dolby 
Sent: Thursday, 17 April 2008 1:14 PM
To: Tim Dolby; ; ; 
Cc: Goldrick, Chrissie; Riley, Kathy
Subject: RE: scientific nomenclature and Australian Geographic

To be quite honest the 'bird' edition of Australian Geographic is
problematic in many ways.

For example (without wanting to sound narcissistic) I personally helped
Australian Geographic out with 2 of the 'bird' articles that appeared in
the journal, spending considerable time and effort doing so. (I should
send them my phone bill to the Northern Territory.) I even had to put up
with a photographer following me around for 2 days. Yet I received no
acknowledgment or thanks for this.

Further, in one of the articles (the one about the twitchathon) they'd
planned to interview me for details. However, because I was away the day
that they rang, they interviewed someone who had nothing to do with the
twitchathon, named them, and then gave them my BA Vic 'description
title' ("Twitchathon Convenor"). This was despite the fact that they
later showed me an 'edit' copy, which I then corrected for them.

Tim Dolby

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Peter Shute
Sent: Thursday, 17 April 2008 10:32 AM
To: Gary Davidson; birding-aus
Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] scientific nomenclature

Why don't you email them and ask them why?

If found this little discussion about the problem:
from 1983.  They suggest that journals that don't deal specifically with
birds tend to apply the same capiltalisation rules as they do for

I'm not fussed which way it's done, despite the advantages of "our" way,
so long as everyone does it the same way, which they never will.  I'm
sticking with our way until the field guides and check lists change.

Peter Shute

 wrote on Thursday, 17 April 2008 12:32

-----Original Message-----
From:  on behalf of Gary Davidson
Sent: Thu 4/17/2008 12:31 AM
To: birding-aus
Subject: [Birding-Aus] scientific nomenclature

There was a thread a while ago about scientifc journals not using
capital letters for bird names.  At the time there was a lot of
criticism of the American journals for adopting this policy.  I note
with interest that the latest edition of Australian Geographic has an
article on birds that also does not use capitals.  This is apparently a
world-wide(?) problem.

Ask a question on any topic and get answers from real people. Go to
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