Who's doing the identification?

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Tue Oct 22 17:07:47 CDT 1996

Michael.Chamberland wrote:
> I've also been led to suspect that environmental consulting companies are
> doing more and more of the plant identification in the USA.  I'm not
> aware of any taxonomy students I've known who've gone into this line
> of work.  I wonder about the level of competency in their identifications,
> especially if they don't have a herbarium.  They're not interacting with
> ours.

For them to interact would run the risk of spilling what are potentially
valuable trade secrets. It's far better for them to NOT put valid species
names on samples, so as to minimize the likelihood of someone else
learning what species have which properties. "Agaricales PM-143" on a
sample is not going to give away any proprietary info, even if some
competitor got ahold of the data. Perhaps I'm imagining pharmaceutical
companies to be paranoid - even if not, I suspect the likely answer in
general as to who is doing the ID work at these firms is folks who rely
on published keys and possibly supplemented by privately-held voucher
material. I doubt many of the folks sending material to such agencies for
ID either realize or care about the questionability of the IDs they
receive...as long as they are consistent.
Doug Yanega

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