[Taxacom] dissections slides vs preservation

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Sun Jan 29 13:04:51 CST 2017

Speaking as a museum curator, what I have seen done varies among taxa: 
(1) for medium to large things with well-sclerotized internal genitalia, 
such as bees, wasps, and beetles, the genital capsules and sometimes 
associated sternites are often removed and point- or card-mounted with 
the specimen, or placed in a gel-cap. (2) for medium to large things 
with partially to mostly membranous genitalia, such as spiders, leps and 
certain hemipterans and flies, vials with glycerin seem to be the method 
of choice. (3) for small things, slide mounts are most common, but some 
meticulous folks make tiny point mounts or use tiny vials (with or 
without glycerin); clearly subject to personal curatorial preference. 
(4) groups with mostly external (or easily-everted) genitalia are often 
simply mounted with the genitalia very slightly spread and allowed to 
dry in that position for visibility. (5) in the occasional cases I've 
seen where an abdomen had to be removed, if it is large, it is glued to 
a card mount and pinned along with the specimen, and if it is small, it 
typically goes into a vial along with the genitalia.

I've seen literally millions of specimens, in dozens of museums 
worldwide, and can't really recall any other techniques I've seen 
employed for long-term preservation.

I will note that at least a few recent papers I've seen have links to 3D 
scans of genitalia, which promises to be a really helpful tool if it 
becomes a common technique, and could help reduce the necessity for 
physical preservation of genitalic preparations.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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