ATBI demise and synoptic collection

WCS Gallon Jug galljug at BTL.NET
Wed May 21 06:01:36 CDT 1997

Fortunately Science, the journal not the paractice, is not readily available

After fairly hard sell we have convinced the powers that be that a
zoological synoptic collection need be established for the country.  It
appears that through GEF funding from U.N. we will get the funding to
establish this for Belize.  It has been a very difficult sell to convince
the correct folks that a basic synoptic collection should exist in the
country so all of the people running around "identifying" things can at
least look at a sample of what they think they saw and determine if they
were close.

As we track records for >1300 species for the country we find that many so
called "GOOD RECORDS" come from people trained in other disciplines.  There
are a number of archaeologists who swear they have seen Harpy Eagles, and
possibly a new species of Trogon etc. etc. and far too many officials takes
these "Morpho-sightings" as gospel. =20

If you or I wandered into an archeological site and suggested that a certain
Maya site had pottery with Aztec influence or some such observation we would
be scorned and laughed out of camp as ignorant of what to look for and
making judgements outside of our disciplines... BUT it seems EVERYBODY and
his/her next of kin assumes they are competent observers of natural history!
They have seen Nat'l Geo Specials on TV and maybe a Disney wildlife show or
two so they really know where from they speak! =20

It may be same in other countries, but far too many of the people running
around in the bush assume the local guides and macheteros really know the
bush and all it contains.  Some reports we have list local animal and plant
bush names.  This is fine at some level but need to be recognized as limited
morpho species.  Same name may apply to 5 species of tree, in 3 families.
Same for many birds.  At some level morpho species may be all
encompassing... rat-bat, the local name for all bats.  Most assume that
there is only 1 maybe 2 kinds rather than 85 we are dealing with.

Morpho species are a very useful concept for many taxa and will continue to
be used.  But in the tropics one must evaluate when/who/how they are=
For invert categories they really help in characterizing areas until better
taxonomic data is at hand, with vouchers, say for terrestrial snail faunas
or other not well known groups.

Anyway my .02 cents worth and at current exchange rates here that translates
to .01 US so =B1 of little value.

Cheers from Gallon Jug

Bruce W. Miller, Associate Conservation Zoologist
Carolyn M. Miller, Associate Conservationist
Tropical Forest and Reserve Planning Project, Belize
          Wildlife Conservation Society
Founded 1895 as New York Zoological Society
Mail: P.O. Box 37, Belize City, Belize, Central America
Ph/Fax/Ans Mach. country code[501]-21-2002

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