identification/voucher fee?

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Tue Oct 30 18:15:35 CST 2001

I'm surprised no one else has posted information on their ID fee
policies; surely this is something of general importance to
taxonomists. The fee I quoted earlier of US$50/hour (institutional
policy, not my decision), takes into account the extra difficulty and
time required for troublesome taxa, or finer levels of
identification. A blanket fee for a family-level ID versus a
different fee for a species-level ID does not reflect the extreme
variation possible. Some species may take 5 seconds to ID, and others
may require several days just to determine the family. Only a
per-unit-time fee is a fair basis for determining payment, in my
opinion. I do realize that some taxonomists charge a flat fee per
specimen (and a rather steep fee of US$50 in at least one such case)
regardless of time required *or* how many identical specimens they
receive of the same taxon. The argument is that they invested decades
of their lives in learning to ID their taxa of interest, so if they
can render an ID in 5 seconds, why should they be penalized for their
efficiency? While I can follow the logic and certainly appreciate the
truth behind it, I think such a policy runs the risk of (1) annoying
the people who need the ID to the point where they simply look
elsewhere and/or (2) prompting those people to send only single
vouchers of each putative morphospecies, which assumes they're
capable of *recognizing* morphospecies, which is unlikely (at least
for most arthropods) and thus a very bad idea.
Of course, if the people in your government can't understand that
some specimens are more difficult to identify than others, they
should not be involved in setting policies for such a program in the
first place - and they will presumably therefore be impossible to
negotiate with. Ignorance promotes the status quo with a strength
proportional to the level of ignorance.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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