Single Specimens

Peter Rauch peterr at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Aug 7 13:55:45 CDT 1995

>Date:         Mon, 7 Aug 1995 12:24:45 -0700
>From: Bruce Neill <bneill at LCLARK.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: Entomologists do more....

>Of what purpose is a lot of one?  Hopefully entomolgists are not using
>single specimens for taxonomic and systematic purposes.

You are confusing the collection and curation of single specimens with
the study of (only) single specimens. Of course, entomologists study
series of specimens, and populations of them, and bunches of them.
They'll also note a single specimen if it has something to draw their
attention. All those singly-collected specimens make up bunches of 'em
for study.

>I recognize the
>historical baggage of single specimen collections that must still be dealt
>with, but I hope that we are getting out of the business of working with

Not to worry. Entomologists' N is big. But, fortunately, they do have
the opportunity to observe the behavior of individuals as well as to
measure population parameters.

>I think that the problem of marking living creatures is a different
>problem, but again, I am stumped at the utility of single specimen

_I'm_ stumped. I don't know how to respond.....???

>Anecdotes are perhaps the cornerstone of ecological,
>behavioral and systematic works, but it seems to me that such observations
>are the basis for further investigation and need not be published and
>referenced per se.

How do I, for example were I a botanist studying floral biology,
request from several entomological collections to send me their
information on all the specimens in their care that have annotations on
the particular plant species whose floral biology I'm studying?

It's not an issue of "publishing" anecdotes on single specimens. That's
not the objective, nor was it suggested.

>  But I guess that
>we are actually attempting to curate knowledge rather than critters.

Both critters and data. Knowledge --who knows??


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