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Booklet 2021

With South America 2013/2021 we present the third volume of the series cactusinhabitat booklet. After returning from our sixth South American trip (16 Nov. 2015 /2 Aug. 2016), in a News dated September 2016, we hoped to update the website with the materials of the last two trips (2013-2014, 2015-2016), for the beginning of 2018. In reality, the processing of the huge amount of data collected in the habitats, in addition to the publication of some wide-ranging  articles, namely the synopsis of Parodia Spegazzini s.l., which appeared in Bradleya (2018, 36: 70-161), and the two articles on the genera Parodia s.l. and Echinopsis s.l., created for the special issue of CactusWorld dedicated to South American Cacti (2020, Vol. 38 Special Issue: 1-52), made us postpone the deadlines. With our synopsis, the only complete study published to date on the genus Parodia, we have replaced the static system based on species and subspecies with a more dynamic vision of the relationships between species in habitats, consisting on the relationships between dominant species in the Darwinian evolutionary sense and their vicariants (internal and external). A transformation that has given rise to a reformulation of the scientific descriptions of the taxa involved, based on the data of real populations existing in nature, rather than on “abstract types”. In this sense, as already expressed in the article dedicated to the dominant species in Parodia that appeared in CactusWorld (2020, Vol. 38 Special Issue: 25), “We are convinced that this approach to classification has changed firstly in substance, and then in numerical data, the information that existed before for these species.”. An approach to classification that has substantiated the definitions of all taxa recognized as species in
The present publication brings to 346 the accepted taxa at the specific level and to 46 those at the generic level, compared to 252 and 40 respectively considered in the previous 2013 edition. Through the molecular outcomes  we are aware (Nyffeler & Eggli 2010; Barcenas et al. 2011; Schlumpberger & Renner 2012), that most of the genera still recognized within the family Cactaceae de Jussieu simply do not exist in phylogenetic terms, as the morphological differences still used to distinguish them do not correspond to real differences at the genetic level (Nyffeler & Eggli 2010). In this sense, to the cases of Echinopsis s.l., Parodia s.l., Eriosyce s.l., already treated in the previous booklets (Anceschi & Magli 2010, 2013), based on the evidences of Franco et al. (2017) we now also add Cereus s.l. to the macrogenera considered, with the already suspected inclusion of Cipocereus F. Ritter and Praecereus Buxbaum, the second already assimilated by us in Cereus in 2013.
The 608 new surveys conducted during the last two trips are documented by 6300 photos, which together with the previous 6500, bring the total images illustrating the taxa in to 12800.
In the main text of the booklet, Taxonomy (part III), we trace some guidelines which, retracing the milestones of Western philosophical and scientific thought, lead to the current propensity of human mind, in its definitions about something approximately true in nature, to a predisposition to proceed always and only through inductive methods aimed at dissecting the real, and not to the understanding of a totality of the same reality through a deductive and unifying method. We emphasize that the division of the world of specialists in the approach to the definition of the surrounding reality in the basic categories of “splitters” and “lumpers” it is only hypothetical, being now the second only imaginary figures whose sole function is to substantiate in the facts the existence of the former. When in our article appeared in the ICSG bulletin, Cactaceae Systematics Initiatives, relating to the monophyly of Echinopsis Zuccarini (Anceschi & Magli 2013, 31: 24-27), we took a stand against the indiscriminate approach to division for the division, supported by the ICSG members of the time, approach that contradicted the very principles of the theory in use (the principles of monophyly and paraphyly sensu Hennig 1966), we were aware of our counter current navigation. The results of this widespread mode of approach have led, for example, in the understanding of the last Hunt (2013, xiii; 2016, 11-12), to taxa with “alternative names”, i.e. taxa that identify the same object as belonging to different totalities within the same reality.
Returning to the cultural background that justifies a propensity for “inductive method and division’' vs. “deductive method and unification’', we remember that this approach comes from afar. Precisely by the Fathers of Western culture, philosophical, scientific, poetic, ethical, political, etc: the ancient Greeks. Especially with Plato's and Aristotle's approach to knowledge, who, although aware of what the deductive method was, were both “spitters” in their understanding of the world. That is, the sensible being (in Plato and Aristotle) and the intelligible Being (in Plato), were constituted (albeit in a different way in the two doctrines), by a “many”. While Parmenides and Plotinus, with their most integral and univocal visions of Being, were the progenitors of a more unifying although anti-phenomenal approach to reality. Through the transition from the Aristotelian qualitative science, to the quantitative one, sustained in the early 1600s by Descartes, Mersenne, and of course Galileo and exemplified by the Baconian principle of the “dissectio naturae”, that “it is better to dissect than to abstract nature” [melius autem est natura secare, quam abstrahere] (Bacon 1620, book 1, section 51), we tried to retrace the achievements gained by this interpretation of reality. Namely the Newton's physics first, and then the achievements of the men of quantum mechanics, remembering that the two great contemporary technological revolutions, that of the transistor (1948) and the laser (1950 c.), they are both progeny of the second. Continuing, we also point out the current “impasse” due to the exclusive use of this approach, highlighting also its subsequent defeats (the string theory, “a theory of everything”, the wandering for an inclusion of human mind as part of the measuring apparatus in quantum measurement etc.), and the “divertissements” (such as the search for “exoplanets”, for example), sustaining the intelligence fundamental unifying value in the approach to knowledge.
Returning to taxonomic science, and to the paradigms that regulate its current use, we point out the limit constituted by the predilection given to the sense of sight in the understanding of the sensible reality that surrounds us, emphasizing that this predilection often leads us to surface interpretations.
The long journeys conducted through the most arid and semi-arid ecosystems on the planet, have made us aware that species are not interested in maintaining an identity through reproductive barriers, but they simply want to continue to exist or to be, transforming to each other in space and time through reproduction and crossing. On the basis of genetic arguments, we underline how a taxonomic science with a more universal vision, can help us to overcome together with many useless names that reassure us so much, also as many useless barriers, in the direction of a more empathic and ethical understanding of the world.
Coming back to what we would like, it should be the approach to knowledge, ontological in general and scientific in particular, we believe that true science is based on the intuition of the principles and not on inductive methods, probabilities supported by “solid” mathematical quantities, opinion and relative consensus, i.e. the paradigms dear to contemporary epistemology. To substantiate our hypothesis, we bring the testimonies of three great men: Aristotele (Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, II, 19, 100 b), Albert Einstein (Einstein 1936) and Willi Hennig (Hennig 1966, 128-129), convinced supporters of the fundamental value of intuition as the “principle of principle” (Aristotle, ibidem), of the scientific procedure.
In the conclusions we formulate as a proposal for a preparation for a new method of approach to scientific knowledge, a return to a way of proceeding that favours theoretical-speculative thinking as the basis for understanding reality. An invitation to grasp the visible through reasoning, and the invisible through intuition. For this purpose, a re-reading of the Classics of Western philosophy, also by scientists, physicists included, would probably be a good starting point. (Quoted from: Anceschi & Magli 2021, 11-14)

Cactusinhabitat booklet. South America 2013/2021 is published & distributed by Modo infoshop. The download is entirely free and available here.



Booklet 2013

With South America 2011/2013 we present the second volume of the series cactusinhabitat booklet. About two and a half years have passed since the first publication of (in 2010) and our first booklet, which Gordon Rowley described as: '... stimulating reading and some revolutionary ideas to arouse controversy' (letter, 27 October 2010). Since then cactusinhabitat has been the activity of our lives, and after another year spent in the habitats of South America, we return to devote ourselves exclusively to the elaboration of the data collected. With the 2013 output we present more than 100 new taxa, bringing the total number of species recognized in to 252 (from the 292 taxa studied in habitat), many of which are accompanied by related comments. The new surveys are documented by more than 4500 photos, in addition to the existing 2000. Although we documented some new genera, the total number we are presenting is still 40, as in the first publication. We have in fact chosen to assimilate some genera in Echinopsis Zuccarini as a consequence of the phylogenetic hypothesis adopted on the basis of the evidence of the latest molecular analyses (Nyffeler & Eggli 2010, 6: 109-149; Schlumpberger & Renner, 2012, 99 (8) 1335-1349). In this regard, we think that the new theories, the new methods and the new techniques are not of use unless the results can be evaluated with an open mind, without which it old ideas that are always lurking are likely to encroach on the space. The subject of the text on taxonomy is time, the master of the lives of every living being. Only the recognition of the importance of an exact chronology of historical events allows us to identify, as the only truth, a phylogenetic system of classification, as an alternative to other methods based on artificial parameters (morphological, typological etc.) Following time's arrow, we analyzed methods and techniques currently in use for the definition of natural (monophyletic) groups in higher taxa, the system based on Hennig simplesiomorphies / synapomorphies, and the choice of specific evolutionary models in the reprocessing of molecular data, e.g. ML and Bayesian analysis, etc. We want to emphasize the importance of the system proposed by Hennig for the definition of the lower taxa (species), the semaphoront figure, and that of accessory science to recognize genetic relationships within a taxonomic system, called 'comparative holomorphy between semaphoronts' (Hennig, 1966, 66-67). In conclusion, our work in habitat led us to prefer the relationships between species rather than separations; relationships also evident in the results of molecular analysis. If there aren’t many taxa or there are, it is a problem of interpretation: If you think of things as being linked together, there are a few; on the other hand, if you think of them as separate, there are many more. (Quoted from: Anceschi & Magli 2013, 11-12)

Cactusinhabitat booklet. South America 2011/2013 is published & distributed by Modo infoshop. The download is entirely free and available here.



Booklet 2010

The cactusinhabitat booklet series, at its first release South America 2005/2010, responds to the need for a publication that summarizes and completes the major contents of our website, a project that is exclusively devoted to the study of cacti in their habitat. The site (October 2010) features over 2000 photos from our archives, to which we will refer when necessary in the booklet. It results from the research and reflections of the last five years, half of which were spent in South America. The observation of the species in habitat made us aware of the need for a simpler classification system, because neither Backeberg, Ritter & Co.’s, nor the International Cactaceae Systematics Group’s taxonomic interpretation is able to fully clarify the relationships between the species. We cover this subject in chapter 1, A taxonomic approach for a simpler (and more stable) classification of genera and species in the cactus family. Then we explain the lines we followed in treating infraspecific taxa, and we describe our more traditional approach, in terms of taxa removed from the species level, compared to the ICSG’s approach. In-depth comments on some species follow: an article about the correct name of the Discocactus living in Grão Mogol; or the new distribution to assign to Parodia claviceps (F. Ritter) F. H. Brandt and Parodia schumanniana (K. Schumann) F. H. Brandt, etc. Up to now, the site takes into consideration 40 genera and 151 species (of which 32 belong to the genus Parodia). Three new combinations are published here in chapter 4, New combinations in various South American genera. The final comments are devoted to the problem of conservation as well as to our contribution to this delicate and constantly evolving subject. The booklet will follow the site updates with the geographic, conservative and taxonomic novelties which will be highlighted by our surveys of the following journeys. (Quoted from: Anceschi & Magli 2010, 7)

Cactusinhabitat booklet. South America 2005/2010 is published & distributed by Modo infoshop. The download is entirely free and available here.


Giovanna Anceschi & Alberto Magli

cactusinhabitat booklet
South America 2013/2021

July 2021

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Giovanna Anceschi & Alberto Magli

cactusinhabitat booklet
South America 2011/2013

June 2013

PDF, 963KB
Giovanna Anceschi & Alberto Magli

cactusinhabitat booklet
South America 2005/2010

October 2010

PDF, 560KB
December 2010

download PDF, 259 KB