Private collections of museum curators

Eric Gouda E.J.Gouda at BIO.UU.NL
Wed Oct 2 10:00:12 CDT 2002

At Wednesday 2-10-2002, Lynn Raw wrote:

>"Eric Gouda" <E.J.Gouda at BIO.UU.NL> wrote -
> >
> > I think there is no problem in having private collections (when the
> > specimen are not protected by law), the only thing is if Types are allowed
> > to be in private collections, this is a real problem. Also when specimen
> > are mentioned in publications, these "must" (or better) be available to
> > scientific society. You have the responsibility to make scientific
> > publications checkable. To my idea, that is the difference between a
> > scientific publication and a fairy-tale.
>Fair enough, but what is the response regarding a private collection that
>holds Types that ARE made available to all researchers in contrast to some
>institutions that hold Types but do not make these Types freely available to
>non-institutionally-affiliated researchers? In this case could we say that
>the private collection would be a better repository than the institution?

Practically it does not work always the way it should. Some institutions
don't take the responsibility they have to the scientific society and
sometimes they simply can't. But it would be a good thing to make a new
international agreement (about the responsibility of accepting types in a
collection) and write it down in the code of Taxonomic Literature. Types
better be donated to institutions that (can) take their responsibilities.

>In a way, types seem to be given more significance than they deserve. They
>are useful but not essential to the practice of taxonomy and may not even be
>typical of the population from which they were taken. To me, the original
>printed description is more important since it is the basis of the

I disagree on this point. Of corse a description is very important, but a
description is artificially and does not include all the information we
need in the future. Beside a Taxon name is technically connected with one
or a few type specimen and extrapolated to the concept of a species.

>A Type has no significance without the original published
>description but the description remains valid even if the Type is lost.

That is true and the only thing we can held on, but it is far from a
desirable situation and without a type specimen it has become highly
speculative (depending how good a description is). It would be better that
the specialist choose a lectotype if possible when a type has been lost.

>I thought that we were (supposed to be) moving away from the old Typological

How can we?

Eric Gouda

>Lynn Raw

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