Lawrence Kirkendall Lawrence.Kirkendall at ZOO.UIB.NO
Wed Jun 14 09:41:12 CDT 1995

Fortuner clarifies one point:  are we asking about confidence in the
identifier, or in the indentification?  Yanega and others have addressed
the latter, in discussing the means by which the identification was
achieved.  Earlier postings with rating systems etc. seemed to be
combinations of the two, idenfier and identification.

With respect to the identification, I wish to point out two aspects that
may have been overlooked (or may not, in which case I apologize!):
confidence that (1) the sample matches the specific species concept (which
usually has been derived from one or more descriptions, +/- illustrations,
and type specimens), and (2) the specific species concept being used
represents a "good" species.  Both affect confidence in the "result", a
statement that the sample represents species xxx of genus Nnn.

I can be very confident that you have given me genus Nnn species xxx, for
example, but have a sneaking suspicion that species xxx is really a species
complex, or that it is really just a variant of yyy.

I haven't follwed this thread closely, but has anyone mentioned the fact
that certain taxa are very easy to be sure about, both becaus e they are
readily sparable and because great skill is not necessary to make the
separation?  Presumably, this is because for some groups the features that
differ between species (often, those involved with sexual selection) vary
in ways that we can easily detect.  A six year-old can probably identify a
monarch butterfly with much confidence, and anyone with a decent musical
ear can quickly learn to identify many frogs or crickets by their calls
(and more easily than by morphology).  Furthermore, a region may have only
one species in a given genus or family, increasing the likelihood that an
id is correct.


from 22 June-18 Sept., I will be at   --->  klawrenc at

Lawrence R. Kirkendall                        FAX:   +47 55 31 44 64
Univ. Bergen Zoological Inst.                 VOICE: +47 55 21 23 42
Allegaten 41, N-5007 BERGEN Norway
EMAIL:  Lawrence.Kirkendall at

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