[Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Jun 26 08:59:54 CDT 2013


Ken,

No problem with 'have'. I was referring images in general. I presume that
the photo provides diagnostic information that allowed you to definitely
identify the bee species that you named. I presume that the photographer
did not collect the specimen.

Your reference to the bee work illustrates my point, I think, in that the
complete quote is

"The image itself is not science as it contains no information until
verified in some way."

Verification is indeed the key. With that verification the image comes into
the realm of science. So images can have scientific value as you have amply
illustrated. But to analyze images alone would be problematic for many
organisms because the content of that analysis - the 'data' is unverifiable
no matter how confident one may be about what that image represents.

Another case might be the involvement of the public in recording monarch
butterfly migration using the wing tags. If people just called in the code
I would view that information as hearsay and outside scientific analysis
(even though one could analyze such data). If I recall correctly, the tags
are turned in, and that provides the verification necessary to make the
data 'scientific' - I suppose.

John Grehan




On Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM, Walker, Ken <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>wrote:

>  Finally John,****
>
> ** **
>
> > images that come to attention might represent an unnammed taxon****
>
> ** **
>
> Correction from “might” to “have” see here:
> http://io9.com/5933986/this-new-species-of-insect-was-discovered-on-flickr
> ****
>
> ** **
>
> > The image itself is not science as it contains no information****
>
> ** **
>
> In 1983, a new species of Australian bee was described as *Euhesma
> tubulifera* .  This is a short tongue bee belonging to the family
> Colletidae but it is an obligate feeder on the plant genus *Calothamnus*whose flowers hide their nectaries at the end of a long, deep corolla: see
> http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0930.png*
> ***
>
> ** **
>
> Undeterred, this bee species has remarkably elongated its mouthpart palps
> (hence its species name!) to form a fused tube resembling a drinking straw
> almost the entire body length of the bee itself while its tongue (ie.
> glossa) remained short and blunt: see arrowed length of fused palps:
> http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0927.png*
> ***
>
> ** **
>
> We had presumed that the bee used these elongated mouthparts to reach the
> deeply hidden nectaries of *Calothamnus *and through capillary action,
> the nectar flowed up the fused palpal tube to the short, blunt glossa.
> Nothing more happened from the “scientific” point of view.****
>
> ** **
>
> Then in 2011, a group of retired, amateur bee photographers used
> web-published bee distribution maps to plot a “field trip” for themselves
> to the other side of Australia to photograph some of these “special” bees
> that had remarkable mouthpart modifications.  They did not contact any of
> the “bee scientists” but just accessed our published data on the web.****
>
> ** **
>
> On Nov 7, 2011, one of them photographed *E. tubulifera* which showed it
> clearly using its tube how we had predicted see:
> http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0935.png*
> ***
>
> ** **
>
> “The image itself is not science as it contains no information”.  I think
> this picture does contain valuable scientific information.  The image taker
> had done the necessary research to maximum her chances of finding the bee –
> let alone photograph it.  Her photo completed the scientific knowledge
> circle for this species.****
>
> ** **
>
> The image was geotagged with GPS and date data and was entered into our
> database along with a range of impressive images.****
>
> ** **
>
> Does “Citizen Science” offer any values to “Science”.  If nothing else, it
> is getting non-scientists to use the outputs of “scientific” research – in
> this case taxonomic … God forbid!  (:->!****
>
> ** **
>
> Ken****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> *From:* John Grehan [mailto:calabar.john at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Tuesday, 25 June 2013 11:15 PM
> *To:* Walker, Ken
> *Cc:* Chris Thompson; Frank.Krell at dmns.org; dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com;
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>
> *Subject:* Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.****
>
> ** **
>
> Ken,****
>
> ** **
>
> Your points are well taken insofar as practicalities go. Certainly one
> cannot kill every this or that organism when it comes to the larger bodied
> species. Where identification is regarded as fairly straightforward one
> might take visuals on trust, but whether its science or not might be
> another matter. What happens, for example, if a supposed single species of
> koala becomes two? All those visuals for distribution are problematic if
> not uninformative for science. ****
>
> ** **
>
> Yes, images that come to attention might represent an unnammed taxon, but
> then that is where the science comes in. The image itself is not science as
> it contains no information until verified in some way. So even though there
> is emphasis on 'science' in 'citizen science' I wonder how much of it is
> science as such.****
>
> ** **
>
> I have a photo of a koala in the forests of Borneo. So I might say. At
> what point does that photo become science?****
>
> ** **
>
> John Grehan****
>
> **
>
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