18 March 2005

Under the ice

Although this weekend will be the first of spring, the winter odonata hiatus seems to be going on and on and on. We had snow overnight last night. Waterfowl are skidding across frozen ponds, but I know underneath the ice there are scary-looking odonata larvae waiting to emerge.

A recent article in Birding magazine about butterflying, where author Jeffrey Glassberg made some of his frequent anti-collecting comments, riled up the lepidopterist groups. Glassberg, from what I can see, is generally not respected by most serious entomologists because of his devisive stance on collecting (or even netting) butterflies. That made Dennis Paulson's recent post to the Odonata-L listserv on ode collecting even more timely and relevant. I reprint it below, edited for space:

I am supplying a colleague with material of some fairly common species for DNA extraction, so I went though my collection to find (a) all the species of the genus, and (b) recently collected specimens, the ones that are most valuable for this purpose.

I discovered that I don't have much in the way of recently taken specimens of some of these species, just because they are common, and I only have so much room in my collection. Many specimens are decades old. Fortunately, I saved one or two from most areas I've visited recently, so I could supply all species for analysis, but if series from an individual population or a limited geographic area had been desired, the project would be out of luck.

The need for samples right up to the present has been made in other taxonomic groups, in which chemical changes in the environment have been monitored by analyzing museum specimens. So my recommendation would be for us to continue to preserve specimens of common species from throughout their ranges, so they will be available to researchers of the future.


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mfophotos said...

Thanks for reprinting Dennis' email. As I have said, there will be uses for those specimens that we never dreamed about 20 years from now.