[Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae

Walker, Ken kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au
Fri Oct 24 16:54:40 CDT 2014


Hi Jason,

If nothing else, your post has created an interesting citizen science trail of discussion.

I do agree with you about the decline of engagement between nature loving people. In Australia, many Field Naturalists Clubs and similar nature clubs are in decline. I give talks to many such clubs and I rarely see the younger generation attending these monthly evening meetings.

I guess this is why I am trying to engage the younger generation through social media - their playground and somewhere they feel comfortable. It is interesting to note that many commentators blame the internet for engagement isolation, but I am finding the internet is bringing like minded people together through citizen science websites.

>why do they need to ask a curator in a Museum about a common insect they photographed?

To me, Biodiversity tracks species in Time and Space. Even records of common species over time is useful information. However, as a curator, I am happy to identify 99 common insects if the 100th photo brings a species back from presumed extinction or records a species 1,000 outside of its known distribution. I try to encourage people to submit any record as they then become my "eye". I am often interviewed about sudden population explosions of insects in some part of our state and usually the only knowledge I have of such events are records submitted to me.

John :
>The response is often 'I don't collect, I only take pictures'.

But at least you know where to go to collect if it is important to you. I work on small bees which if they are not pinned soon after collection are almost impossible to relax and repin. I prefer to collect fresh specimens myself but know that a population is about at a certain time and visiting certain flowers has often helped me enormously.

Thanks for beginning this thread.

Cheers

Ken


Sent from my iPad

> On 25 Oct 2014, at 2:59 am, "John Grehan" <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> For me, what can sometimes be really frustrating is that someone take a
> picture of something that is really, really, really interesting
> photogenically (as far as I am concerned). So I make contact (where
> possible) and ask if they might keep an eye out in the future and collect a
> specimen. The response is often 'I don't collect, I only take pictures'.
> And these are people for whom identification is important, but they have no
> interest in making that identification possible. Nothing intrinsically
> wrong with that, just something I have to live with.
>
> John Grehan
>
>> On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 8:45 AM, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> Only John and Doug seem to have actually understood what I meant in my
>> original email, so I will paraphrase my opinion:
>> social media is not, on its own, enough to arrest the loss of amateur
>> ´natural historians´ that I have seen over the last couple of decades.
>>
>> How this statement can be confused with criticizing scientific public
>> engagement is beyond me. I think it is probably due to the confusion
>> over the term ´Citizen Science´. Citizen science is older than real
>> science itself. Decartes, Darwin, Newton, Einstein and many more were
>> ´Citizen Scientists´, but they were called "Amateurs".
>>
>> Amateurs were the original scientists and much of science until the
>> mid 1800´s was done by amateurs. Because science was mostly
>> gratuitous, most amateurs had to have alternate sources of income and
>> at least some spare time, so most amateurs were either gentlemen or
>> professionals (doctors, vicars, landed gentry, etc). Afterwards
>> working as a patent clerk was an option, but in general a stigma of
>> elitism and flippancy (maybe some of it earnt) was attached to
>> amateurs.
>>
>> So, as science became more complex, specialized and costly, different
>> fields moved beyond the grasp of private individuals and into the
>> realm of professional science, where institutions could pool resources
>> to tackle increasingly complex questions. However ´natural history´
>> retained a sizeable (and often preponderant) proportion of amateurs.
>> These amateurs produced most of the taxon records, were the local
>> "go-to person" to identify some plant or animal and often became
>> authorities on their own in particular groups. These are the people
>> who are disappearing fast.
>>
>> I have no doubt that the individuals posting pictures online are
>> indeed ´biophiliacs´ and that engaging with them is positive but one
>> has to wonder, why do they need to ask a curator in a Museum about a
>> common insect they photographed? If you look through the images you
>> will notice that the majority are common things, stuff that you can
>> work to at least family with any picture guide book or that appears
>> several times (and has been identified already) in the same site. Its
>> like if an amateur astronomer sent posted a picture of the moon or
>> mars asking to have it identified. Or a birdwatcher a picture of a
>> starling. I think that BowerBird, ProjectNoah etc are just the symptom
>> that many people love nature, but they don´t really want to go any
>> deeper than labelling pictures.
>>
>> Best
>>
>> Jason
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