"Threat" to types (or institutions?)

Mon Jul 10 18:13:33 CDT 1995

As a third-worlder (African) I am pretty appalled at some of the
opinions expressed on this matter.  There are museums and herbaria in
the third world which are better maintained than many of the major
first-world institutions.

It is interesting that one of the arguments for keeping the
collections at first-world institutions is that it justifies their
survival, and their funding.  But what about the systematist in the
third world (where most of the species are) trying to do a revision
of some group, but without the type collections (or indeed, usually
without any `pre-independence' collections!).  I think that the
critical issue for science and systematics is accessibility to
material, not where it is housed.   And here it would be much more
useful if the first-world institutions would make their material more
accessible, by providing facilities, covering costs, etc. of visiting
systematists from the third world.  The major problem is the terrible
exchange rates between first-world and third world currencies, which
makes it prohibitively expensive to stay any time in New York, London
or Paris.  Maybe if these institutions that use third-world
collections to justify their existence would provide real budget
costs (comparable to staying in the third-world country)
accommodation and food to third-world systematists, it might take the
heat off the argument.

We need to approach this problem constructively, not be making snide
comments about the cost of insect pins, or the sure destruction of
types in the third world.


Peter Linder
Bolus Herbarium
Botany Department
Rondebosch 7700
email linder at botany.uct.ac.za
fax +27-21-6503726

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