[Taxacom] Taxacom Digest, Vol 73, Issue 23

rick mcneill juniper.botany at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 12:05:56 CDT 2012

Do we need to start an online petition?

On Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM, <taxacom-request at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>   1. US Herbaria, Biological Collections, Society Presidents
>      (Scott L. Gardner)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2012 13:06:52 -0500
> From: "Scott L. Gardner" <slg at unl.edu>
> Subject: [Taxacom] US Herbaria, Biological Collections, Society
>        Presidents
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Message-ID: <4F9C31BC.2050401 at unl.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252; format=flowed
> Dear Museum Managers, Directors, Society Presidents, and Herbaria
> Curators and Collection Managers in the USA:
> If you have not yet written a strong letter of protest to the director
> of NSF regarding the action by the National Science Foundation - DBI to
> immediately slash by at least 1/2 funding in the Division of Biotic
> Infrastructure (DBI) Collections Support for Biological Research Program
> (CSBR), you should do so as soon as possible.
> An excellent letter, included below, was written by the President of the
> American Society of Mammalogists and sent to the NSF on official ASM
> letterhead.
> Scott Gardner
> Secretary, Natural Science Collections Alliance
> Curator of Parasitology
> Manter Laboratory of Parasitology
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> March 15, 2012
> Dr. John Wingfield
> Assistant Director for Biological Sciences
> National Science Foundation
> 4201 Wilson Boulevard
> Arlington, VA 22230
> jwingfie at nsf.gov
> Dear Dr. Wingfield:
> As President of the American Society of Mammalogists and former member
> and chair of the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee for NSF
> (BIO-AC), I am very concerned about a provision in the President?s
> fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request for NSF that will negatively impact
> the nation?s collections of biological specimens now and in the future.
> The budget request proposes changing the Collections in Support of
> Biological Research (CSBR) program from an annual to a biennial
> competition, which means that the funding for this program would
> effectively be cut in half.
> Collections of biological specimens are vital to the study of ecology,
> evolution, and conservation of the world?s biota, both past and present.
>  Descriptions of species new to science rely on such specimens.
> Natural history collections support studies of some of the most
> important problems of our time, including invasive species, emerging
> diseases, cascading extinction, and the effects of climate change. For
> example, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) at the University of
> California, Berkeley, recently demonstrated the effect of climate change
> in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California.  This essential
> study could not have been carried out without the collection of
> historical and contemporary specimens and associated data housed at, and
> cared for, by the MVZ. Various U.S. museums are the sources of accurate
> (and much needed) identifications of vertebrates that may be hosts to
> some of the world?s most serious health risks, such as the Ebola virus,
> West Nile virus, Lyme disease, or bird flu.  Collections of bird
> specimens were used to determine what forced Captain Sullenberger to put
> Flight 1549 into the Hudson River, and generated data to help prevent
> similar occurrences in the future. Collections are used thousands of
> times each day to strengthen research in a vast number of disciplines.
> Natural History collections serve a basic educational function as well.
> Whether providing the data needed for a doctoral dissertation or
> instilling a sense of wonder in a high school intern, collections are
> the training ground for budding scientists.  The biodiversity data
> generated by the study and curation of collections is increasingly being
> shared by various museums and is made available to scientists around the
> world.  The global impact of these data cannot be understated. However,
> the specimens (the primary source of the information) must be maintained
> permanently for accurate verification and availability for testing
> future hypotheses. The range of uses of collections expands, and their
> scientific value increases, with the passage of time. Collections are
> clearly the basic data of nature across time and space, an irreplaceable
> and irrefutable record of life present and past.
> Vouchered specimens serve a basic tenet of the scientific method,
> allowing for repeatability of studies and providing the opportunity for
> future studies to verify results.  Every single specimen is unique,
> offers matchless and exclusive data, and cannot be replaced.  Many came
> from habitats that have been permanently altered.  Given how important
> and irreplaceable these collections are, it is vital that adequate
> resources be made available to care for them so that they continue to be
> available to future generations. However, many such specimens are under
> severe threat because of poor housing conditions in some of the nation?s
> older collections and museums, or because institutions lack the funding
> necessary for basic care and maintenance of the collection.  Too often
> we are faced with administrative decisions that mandate that the
> collections be dispersed to other institutions, if not disposed of
> entirely, with the subsequent irreplaceable loss of the primary data of
> life.  Unfortunately these trends are increasing.  The cost of
> maintaining collections requires long-term commitment, which must
> include federal support. Many, if not most, of the collections were
> developed with federal support or to meet federal needs in
> specimen-based research. The CSBR program is the most important source
> of government funding to rescue, maintain, and enhance such vitally
> important resources. Reducing the program funding by half would be a
> tragic blow to our ability to deal with serious issues facing society
> and keep our finger on the pulse of the planet as reflected in the
> biological data of specimens across both space and time.
> The American Society of Mammalogists?the oldest and largest organization
> of mammalian biologists in the world?has long supported the natural
> science collections of this nation, many of which resulted from research
> by mammalogists and their graduate and undergraduate students. Indeed,
> ASM members have served as directors of the US Biological Survey, the
> Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and many other museums and
> collection repositories in the United States. The contribution of
> biological specimens toward meeting numerous needs of the nation cannot
> be overstated. Today, as species decline in abundance and diversity
> across the globe, as introduced species continue to cost the United
> States as much money each year as the Iraq War, as threats of
> bioterrorism involving living organisms continue to be possible, and as
> ecosystem integrity is threatened by an increasing numbers broken links
> in food webs, the nation?s biological collections continue to provide
> the bedrock of information required by scientific disciplines across a
> broad spectrum.
> I urge you to reconsider the proposed cuts to the CSBR program.
> Sincerely,
> Michael A. Mares, Ph.D.
> President, American Society of Mammalogists
> (mamares at ou.edu)
> cc.     Dr. Subra Suresh, Director NSF (ssuresh at nsf.gov)
> Dr. Joann Roskoski, Deputy Assistant Director, Biological Sciences
> (jroskosk at nsf.gov)
> Dr. Daphne Fautin, Program Director, DBI Collections (dfautin at nsf.gov)
>        Dr. Anne Maglia, Program Director, DBI Collections (amaglia at nsf.gov
> )
> Dr. Jose Nelson Onuchic, Chair, BIOAC (jonuchic at rice.edu)
> --
> *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
> Scott Lyell Gardner, Ph.D.
> Curator and Professor
> Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology
> W-529 Nebraska Hall
> University of Nebraska State Museum and
> School of Biological Sciences
> University of Nebraska - Lincoln
> Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0514
> e-mail:   slg at unl.edu
> Web:      http://hwml.unl.edu
> ASP Page: http://asp.unl.edu
> Phone:    402-472-3334
> Fax:      402-472-8949
> Cell:     402-540-9310
> "What made you pull my tail?" - Darwin
> "If we don't work to describe and conserve biodiversity now,
> our descendants will be very upset."  -slg
> *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
> ------------------------------
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> End of Taxacom Digest, Vol 73, Issue 23
> ***************************************

Richard McNeill
Juniper Botanical Consulting LCC
P.O. Box 2843
Las Vegas NM 87701
juniper.botany at gmail.com

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