Response to the Type Issue

Elizabeth Arias ejariastobar at UCDAVIS.EDU
Thu Jun 25 17:40:21 CDT 1998

Dear Taxacomers:

I would like to answer to the thread that I started on access to types, in
which I explained that my doctoral dissertation is painfully stalled due to
lack of access to types deposited at the Paris Museum. I wish to thank
everyone for your responses and to say that I received a total of 82
responses. This issue is important to quite a few Taxacom subscribers.  I
am not attacking the Paris Museum professionals but instead the policies
and regulations of such huge valuable collections.

        I am below responding to some comments e-mailed to me from readers
of this list.
1)      Some subscribers responded that I could not escape making the
obligatory tour to Europe. I have already done so. I was in Paris 2 years
ago, and Dr. Girard and Dr. Jean Menier helped me as much as possible. I
was allowed to borrow five types at that time, which I subsequently
returned. But I need to study the remaining types, Elaterids are a very
"chaotic group" so that adds difficulty to the systematic that I am
conducting. I have no more personal savings to go to Paris. I am an
international student so US. grants are highly restricted to me, a
non-citizen. I need to see and study "18" types which were deposited by
Solier and Fleutiaux. I will not accept that I can not finish my
dissertation  just because I can not get to Paris again or, I can not have
the types here at UC Davis. I understand that the study of type specimens
must be at the end of each research project, and that is the stage were I
am now. I can not finish my dissertation because I need to compare my
material with the holotypes.

(2)     Some subscribers responded that types are NOT lent to graduate
students. Types were requested in 1995 from the Paris Museum by my Major
professor, and re-requested several times after. I think it is standard
policy for most museums to lend types for student use in the name of their

(3)     ... or to students having no experience working with beetles. I
have plenty of experience. I was a faculty member at the University of
Chile, Dept. of Vegetable Health, from 1986 to 1988; Associate faculty at
the University of Talca, faculty of Natural Resources. I was Instructor of
General Entomology for undergraduate students in Agronomy and Biology, from
1988 to 1992. I conducted research on beetle taxonomy with support from the
University of Talca and sponsored by the executive direction of National
Corporation of Forests and the National History Museum, Santiago. Many Ph.
D. students from developing countries, especially those attending western
universities, are established professionals in their native countries with
years of experience looking to upgrade their skills through government

(4) Another suggestion was that  I should forget about the Paris types and
create my own. The latest version of the International Code of Zoological
Nomenclature [ICZN] (1985) contains almost no information regarding type
specimen deposition. But the one thing it does state is that "type
specimens need to be available to the scientific community".  Should my
elaterid types and others that can not be studied for long periods due to
institutional policies be declared as lost by the international community
(as some advised me) and neotypes designated by the most recent reviewers?
I am not going to do this because types DO exist, it would create taxonomic
confusion, besides my publication of inaccurate synonymies and keys and my
returning specimens to museums with inaccurate identifications will produce
"chaos" as well.

        It must be understood that the problem museums have in sending
types occurs  in several European museums, and also in museums all over the
world, and only underdeveloped countries would be excused. The  lack of
technicians and funding are the principal factors which account for why
specimens are not lent. However, requests for specimens should be answered
in a timely manner, i.e. 2 or 3 months not 1 or 2 years. If it's not
possible to send the specimens, then it is the museum's responsibility to
explain how they have arranged to make accessible the material they hold in
trust for the scientific community.
        If scientists visit Museums I recommend working out before the trip
what will be needed regarding availability of scopes, working times, museum
policies and non-working days.  This is will help to avoid confusion and
conflict  while visiting.
        Throughout the years, I have received many requests for information
regarding collecting expeditions in Chile. I have always been willing to
help other scientists plan their trips to Chile, providing information
about car rentals, hotels, national parks, maps, permits, bank hours, and
all details concerning my country. I do this in order to promote the
productivity of ANY scientist when conducting research in Chile.

        If there is a willingness from all museums regarding type requests
and loans this definitely will help and promote systematic studies. In the
end **cooperation by all parties involved is needed**


Elizabeth T. Arias
R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology
University of California, Davis
Davis CA 95616
 Fax/voice:  (530)752-9464

        Y dijo el Creador a los seres vivientes sobre la tierra
        creced y multiplicaos...
        pero solo los coleopteros le escucharon

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