[Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Oct 23 21:21:54 CDT 2014

I support Ken's working definition of citizen science as 'adding value to a hobby'.

Over the past ca 10 years I've been contacted directly by many Australian 'nature hobbyists' who've grabbed images of a bug and who want to know what it is. Most of these queries have been about millipedes, but in the past week or so I IDed a lepidopteran larva (the imager thought it was a millipede) and a larva of a local Perga sawfly (Hymenoptera: Pergidae).

For me, there are 2 trends over the 10 years that are pretty obvious. The first is that the number of queries and the number of my new contacts have been growing steadily. The second is that the quality of the images has been increasing spectacularly to the point where IDs to millipede genus are the norm, and IDs to species aren't always out of the question.

These are direct contacts rather than via social media, but they have demonstrable value. My contacts get value added to their hobby from my IDs and my pointers to online information about the subjects of the images. They also like the idea that if they find something interesting, they can get a quick and friendly response from me or other specialists - this makes the hobbyists feel connected to a community that takes their bug subjects seriously, as they do.

As a specialist I get even more from these exchanges than the hobbyists: eyeballs, cameras (and sometimes collecting vials) in places I'm unlikely to get to, locality records for known species and genera, tantalising images of things I've never seen before and can't ID, and stunningly beautiful close-ups of live millipedes I've only known from pickled specimens.

I'm struggling to see a downside to any of this.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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