There was a (spurious) example used by the ‘anti-collectors’ 10 or 15 years ago in the UK of a large and colourful Tenebrionidae that develops in bracket fungi on Betula, and which was very rare (Red Data Book) in the UK, being extirpated by collectors; the argument was that it was restricted to the fungus, and when it was reported from one small forest, collectors pulled off all the obvious fruiting bodies of the fungus in the forest where it was known to occur, ‘so the collectors must have eliminated it’. Once the collectors in question had ‘their series’ no one else looked for it, so there were no more records or specimens, so it was concluded that it ‘must have been extirpated’
Scroll on 10 years, and a slight increase in annual temperatures (many rarities in UK are rare because they are on the fringe of their climatic range) the species in question, Diaperus boleti, spread hugely, and is now to be found in virtually every birch bracket fungus in southern England….
I saw more than one lecture in which the ‘destruction’ of this species in England was used as an example of the negative side of collecting. People were pleased with the neatness of the example, which they employed to prove their spurious and now falsified point- and probably a lot of damage was done to public perceptions of science and collecting by these people’s misconception …. What I don’t understand, is why they did it?
Maxwell V. L. Barclay
Curator and Collection Manager
Entomology: Coleoptera & Hemiptera
Department of Life Sciences
Natural History Museum
London SW7 5BD
T: 0207 942 5911
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My TEDx talk at the Royal Albert Hall is now available online:
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From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Samuel Perry
Sent: 18 June 2014 18:53
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: NPR news on collecting
Robert I don't have a specific example but I'd bet that, at least in regards to insects, the only time you'd see actual documentation of such would be baited pitfalls to collect cave insects being left on the site for too long.
I've heard chatter of extirpation of Cicindelinae from specific sites by over-zealous collectors, which, if true, and done in a systematic way, would of course eventually lead to extinction. Cicindela itself is one of the most studied genera of economically unimportant animals, and is a great favorite of non-research collectors (I love catching them, myself, but generally only take a specimen if I see numerous individuals or know that the particular place I'm at is not a known site).
I know when I'm asked why I collect insects, why would I need to kill them and take them with me, my explanation that the tiny, black things I'm interested in are difficult or impossible to distinguish from one another without dissection under a microscope. I think that if I happened to be interested in Lycaenidae instead of Carabidae, I'd get more arguments and guff from the random people I meet in the field, but I lucked out, as my little black bugs arn't as generally charming as butterflies.
All of this is hearsay, anecdotes, and speculation, of course. A certain part of the public at large will never see the sense of killing innocent animals, no matter what the reason is, and the only people who are going to argue for meaningful killing of these animals are biologists. If it falls on deaf ears or not, it should still be made clear that there is a legitimate reason for it.
On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM, Robert Anderson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Are there ANY well-documented examples of scientific collecting (not collecting for food or similar reason) contributing significantly to the extinction (or near extinction) of a species?
Research and Collections Division
Canadian Museum of Nature
PO Box 3443, Station D
Ottawa, ON. K1P 6P4 CANADA
I know that some of you signed the letter to Science to counter the anti-collecting article published by Minteer et al. but now NPR has picked up the article giving it airplay (http://www.npr.org/2014/06/18/318307574/is-collecting-animals-for-science-a-noble-mission-or-a-threat). Something needs to be done to further counter this article as making this news will serve to make collecting and species level taxonomy even more difficult than it already is.
Samuel G Perry
206 427 9885