every entomologist needs a plant press

Barry M. OConnor bmoc at UMICH.EDU
Mon Apr 1 09:05:34 CST 1996

At 10:09 AM 4/1/96, Andrew Whittington wrote:
>On Fri 29 Mar, John Nelson said:
>"GASP! That's the whole point! What if you mididentify your plant, or
>have a faulty concept of what it really is? If there's a specimen of
>it, maybe somebody down the road can correct your mistake.

 I whole-heartedly agree -
>vouchers are required of future verification of identifications.  But is
>everybody playing the same game?
Parasitologists have dealt with this issue for a long time.  Many older
works (and unfortunately some more recent ones) have described new
parasites from "rat" or "small bat," etc.  Whenever possible (I have been
known to use a spatula - the Gary Larson special - to collect road kill), I
voucher all vertebrate and insect hosts from which I have removed
parasites.  Information in publications on the parasites then includes in
addition to full collection data, the institutional catalog number of the
host specimen for vertebrates, and my voucher number which has been placed
on a pin label or an alcohol vial label for arthropod hosts.
        Two practical issues relating to this practice have come up over
the course of my research on parasitic mites.  The first is the ownership
of the specimens.  I have made it a standard practice to regard the
institution who owns the host specimen as the owner of the parasites that
come along with it.  Agreements have been made with the curators in charge
of the host collections (or the institutional lawyers) which provide for
the deposition of holotypes and half of the paratype series in the owner
institution (even if I collected the parasites myself), or in the case of
previously named taxa, half of the series.  The remaining half of the
series can be distributed to other institutional collections including
those in the country of origin and my own institution.  This presumes the
"owner" institution maintains an arthropod collection; if it doesn't, other
arrangements are made.
        The second issue is one which relates to current US government
regulations.  If parasites are to be removed from hosts collected outside
of the US, one must include them in the original collecting permit, export
permits from the country of origin and also declare them on the FWS import
declarations.  This information comes from the US Fish & Wildlife Service
representatives.  I've been told by several agents that unless this was
done, it is not legal for me to remove the parasites from museum specimens
collected after the current law became effective in 1980.  Since most
vertebrate and insect collectors have not routinely done this, we're in a
grey area with respect to the law (don't ask, don't tell?).  I mention all
of this because I presume these regulations also apply to plants/insects
and any other living or formerly living thing (the definition of "wildlife"
under the law) collected outside the US.  My colleagues now routinely
include the phrase "and associated parasites" on all permit applications
and export/import forms.

Barry M. OConnor                phone: (313) 763-4354
Museum of Zoology               FAX: (313) 763-4080
University of Michigan          e-mail: bmoc at umich.edu
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079  USA

More information about the Taxacom mailing list