specimens examined list

James B. Whitfield jwhitfie at COMP.UARK.EDU
Sun Jul 30 20:31:19 CDT 1995

The question by Gary Noonan and the additional spin from Jim Croft about
putting specimens examined lists into databases and having journals require
this prompts me to chime in with the need for journals to require something
similar from systematists doing *molecular* work.  Many studies are
published based on exemplar taxa, and additionally a large number of taxa
have been sequenced that were not definitively (if there is such a thing!)
or otherwise determined by an authority in the group. Thus we don't in some
cases know exactly which taxa were studied in some cases, and in other
cases we don't know what populations the samples came from.  It may not
have seemed critical to the researcher at the time.  The journal's editor
may not have wanted to publish a complete list as an appendix. But the fact
that these taxa were studied systematically, yet their identity cannot be
pinned down, makes the comparative data far less useful in the future. The
same standards of documentation and vouchering that apply to the more
morphology-based of us should apply also to molecular systematists.
        By the way, in my experience (and I do both morphology- based and
DNA-based systematics, although more of the former) molecular systematists
by and large already recognize this need, but could maybe use some guidance
from journals and those of us who handle thousands of specimens, as Gary
does, as to how best to go about it efficiently and in a standardized way.
I think whatever is required of authors should be required across the
board, no matter what kind of systematics they do.  Not only would such
practices make molecular data more useful and relevant to other
taxonomists, but molecular systematists might better recognize how their
work fits in with and complements other kinds of work.

J. B. Whitfield
Department of Entomology
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(501)575-2482 FAX -2452
jwhitfie at comp.uark.edu

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