What are we going to do about this?

Stuart G. Poss sgposs at WHALE.ST.USM.EDU
Thu Oct 24 11:59:44 CDT 1996

Dr. Paulson,

        I couldn't agree with you more concerning the use of establishing a
program to engage retired and other interested persons in the cause of
taxonomy.   I further appreciate your positive suggestion since it is
much more useful to me than listening to the increasingly pitiful
bellyaching done by so many of the users of TAXACOM.

        At GCRL we plan to initiate such a project and are in the development
process necessary to establish a framework for the success of such an
endeavor.  We plan to focus on our local fauna/flora (Mississippi Sound
and adjacent waters) and involve primarily local expertise.  The overall
arrangement will be strongly WWW-centric, although our implementation is
presently only in its infancy.

        A critical aspect of efforts to better support the study of
biodiversity is to better integrate it with ongoing regulation,
management, and educational programs.  We are thus trying to develop
taxonomically relevant WWW pages in a way that will directly integrate
these efforts.  Any work being done by others in this area, such as
relating the importance of certain species to fisheries, is of
particular importance.  Since it allows us to link our efforts.  This is
particularly true, since ours is a small shop (2 of us in the museum and
3 or 4 others working in related disciplines) and we can not alone
develop information pertaining to all the taxa and relevant issues

        If you are engaged in efforts dealing biodiversity within Puget Sound,
an exchange of ideas, and URL's  would be especially helpful to us.  It
is important that the public see institutions such as ours as part of an
integrated community working on similar problems.  Information sharing
helps to provide comparisons with other areas that aide in establishing
an appreciation of the uniqueness of our local faunas/floras.  Such
interaction also provides a increased measure of visibility.  If more
than one institution is so engaged, the credibility of the approach is
enhanced in the eyes of the viewers/participants, in addition to making
available parallel information/ideas that would otherwise not be

        Personally, I would take considerable interest in any project dealing
with fishes of Puget Sound.  I am primarily known for my work on
scorpaeniform fishes and have a keen interest in this important element
of your local biota and have amassed a huge amount of information on
these species.  Also, as a landowner in Jefferson County with property
on Dabob Bay, I expect to eventually retire to the Puget Sound area to
pursue my interests in these fishes and relish the opportunities to
develop ties with colleagues in the area.

Stuart Poss

Dennis Paulson wrote:
> Taxonomy started with "gentleman naturalists" for the most part, with
> family money rather than through commerce.  Nowadays, however, most of the
> wealthy people are money managers, business CEOs, and the like.  Times have
> changed, and we won't see the gentleman (or -woman) naturalist again.  And
> I've tried and tried to convince Bill Gates to fund studies in dragonfly
> systematics, and I don't understand why he doesn't answer my letters....
> But there are also a huge number of people, especially retired people, who
> are sympathetic to biology (or, more accurately, nature) and with adequate
> supplies of spending money.  Nature tours are full of them.  Audubon
> Society lectures are full of them.  Adult-education classes about nature
> are full of them.  Lots of professionals--lawyers, doctors, and their
> spouses.  How about a movement to get this group interested in classical
> alpha taxonomy?  It relates so well to nature that we should be able to
> make the connection, and combining NATURE with DISCOVERY should be a
> powerful attractant.
> There are research groups such as Earthwatch that take people out and have
> them study gibbon behavior in Borneo or reef fish communities in the
> Caribbean, etc. (I believe including some biotic surveys).  Why not develop
> a taxonomically oriented "Biotawatch" that has people paying to (a) help a
> researcher collect specimens of a particular taxonomic group or (b) help
> sort and describe the specimens or (c) (preferably) both?  I don't see why
> this shouldn't be just as possible as using such "volunteers" for
> ecological and behavioral studies.  If Costa Rica can train
> parataxonomists, why not the same for researchers where much of the
> taxonomic work is being done, e.g., in North American and European
> universities.  Perhaps all it will take is for taxonomists to start wearing
> clean shirts and polishing their people skills.  Well, I guess it would
> also take an energetic person or group of people to start such a program!
> Dennis Paulson, Director                           phone 206-756-3798
> Slater Museum of Natural History                 fax 206-756-3352
> University of Puget Sound                       e-mail dpaulson at ups.edu
> Tacoma, WA 98416

Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at whale.st.usm.edu
Senior Ichthyologist & Curator       Tel: (601)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (601)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000

More information about the Taxacom mailing list