specimens examined lists, again

Peter Rauch peterr at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Aug 3 09:44:04 CDT 1995

>Date:         Thu, 3 Aug 1995 09:24:24 EDT
>From: Robin Panza <panzar at CLPGH.ORG>

>Gary Noonan pointed out that, for entomologists, listing can be impractical
>because of the lack of individual ID numbers on so many specimens.

Gotta start someday, somewhere. (Fortunately, some museums/collections
have started. Otherwise, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

>Perhaps he
>and other entomologists could follow the practice I've seen in ornithological
>papers, of listing localities and quantities, rather than individual specimen
>ID numbers.

Yes, this has been done often. The issue is whether or not there is
adequate _documentation_, _somewhere_, of what material was actually

eg:  COLUMBIA:  Sautata, 3m/3f; Jaraquiel, 1m/5f.  PANAMA:
>Darien, 4m/5f/3?.

Hmmmm, that brings up the whole separate, important, issue of community-wide
authority control mechanisms ("authority files"), for all sorts of
things of importance to collection-based data and studies, including
taxonomies/classifications/determinations, personal/institutional/other
names, and for places like colUmbia. Lots of people are using controlled
vocabularies, some even use national/international standard references
as the sources, but there's still a long way to go with authority control
if collection information sharing/combining/use is going to become a norm.

>Certainly, it would be nice to have in hand the ID numbers to be able
>to request the same individuals for another study, but, as Noonan has

More than nice!

>pointed out, that can be impractical, from his standpoint as well as
>the amount of space (on paper or electronically)

Hardly an issue, even for insects.

>and time (to type up, in either medium).

Definitely an issue, but not impractical --only poorly addressed still
by many (but not all are detractors).

>At least, using the above notation, others can
>judge (a) whether your sample sizes are believable, and (b) whether the
>geographic distribution of samples is believable.

How? Without re-examining the specimens, you really _are_ relying strongly
on a _belief_ system, and are relying precisely on the data that you wish
to confirm.

>With the above
>information, I can always write to the author and ask for more
>information about some of the specimens, if I want to examine them.

Perhaps, but often not likely, if those specimens are not individually
locatable. Which specimens will you be asking about? Where _is_ Gary
anyway? Ohh...(sigh)  Anybody know which specimens Gary studied?

With apologies to Gary,

More information about the Taxacom mailing list