Outlets for alpha taxonomy

Bill Shear wshear at EMAIL.HSC.EDU
Fri Jan 18 14:10:21 CST 2002

On 1/18/02 1:08 PM, "Ron Gatrelle" <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG> wrote:
  Just because the job is so big, the
> crisis induced time so short, and the field taxonomists so few does not
> mean we should do less than our most thorough best.  Educate and hire more
> field biologists, naturalists, taxonomists in the war for discovery,
> determination, and documentation.

Preaching to the choir, Ron.  What we really need is an effective way of
communicating the excitement of discovery that is the motivating force
behind A-tax (I just coined that!).

Whenever I talk to groups outside academe about my work, they get really
whipped up and cannot believe that there are new animals to be discovered,
literally in their back yards.  When I get our college PR folk to send a
press release about new species I am describing, it invariably gets good
coverage in the regional press.  I have several colleagues who have had the
same experience, over and over again.

I would love to see the Discovery Channel or PBS' Nature air a program on
the work of some selected A-taxers.  I'll bet we'd find that to be the best
recruiting tool ever.  Next I would hope to the see the emergence of some
charismatic national spokesperson for taxonomy, to whom the media would turn
frequently for pithy comment.  Imagine our own version of Steve Gould, Jack
Horner, or Paul Sereno!

When the public knows and appreciates what we do, that, after a time, will
translate into more governmental and institutional support.  So I would urge
all of us who work with new taxa to not be afraid to blow our own horns.
Don't be a shrinking violet!  Don't hide your light under a bushel ! (Don't
use too many cliches in the same paragraph!)  It's all for the good of our
science, and your career, too, when you grab some public attention.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (434)223-6374
email<wshear at email.hsc.edu>
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