Specimen collecting & ethics

Kevin Winker ffksw at UAF.EDU
Fri Jan 10 12:42:18 CST 2003

Deborah, I dealt with some of these issues in birds in two papers and a

Winker, K. 1996. The crumbling infrastructure of biodiversity: the avian
example. Conservation Biology 10:703-707. (Points out that systematics
collections represent the touchstone of biodiversity, and that in birds this
touchstone is suffering from age and a dramatic decline in recent
acquisitions. Specimen-based avian research has a long and scientifically
strong history, and the benefits of this research have been extensive. Yet the
temporal distribution of specimens in several major U.S. museums shows that
the basis for this research is drying up - at a time when it has never been
more needed. Five misconceptions or misunderstandings and the opposition to
collecting that they generate are exposed as fallacious and needless obstacles
to continued collections growth. Because avian conservation includes the
preservation of ecosystems, this problem has broad implications for the
conservation of biodiversity.)

Winker, K. 1997. The role of systematics and taxonomy (response). Conservation
Biology 11:595-596.

Winker, K. 2000. Obtaining, preserving, and preparing birds. Journal of Field
Ornithology 71:250-297. Detailed guide to procedures in field and laboratory.

Each has provoked lively discussion, both within the museum community and
without. The first is widely used as justification backup for general permit
applications (and not just in birds). All are available as pdf files lower
down on my web page:


Kevin Winker
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775
ffksw at uaf.edu

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