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RE: [CALBIRDS] a question about the Grinnell and Miller follow on survey

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    I just wanted to add to Kimball s excellent post that Grinnell was also the primary force behind keeping Yosemite National Park a place where people can
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 9, 2008
      I just wanted to add to Kimball's excellent post that Grinnell was also the
      primary force behind keeping Yosemite National Park a place where people can
      observe wildlife in their natural habitats. Without his energy and vision,
      much of Yosemite would have turned into a theme park (and for a time it even
      had a zoo in the valley that Grinnell finally convinced the Park Service to
      eliminate). He was also a major force behind promoting responsible wildlife
      management policy in the National Park System. We still enjoy his profound
      legacy that goes far beyond his collection of scientific specimens.

      John Sterling


      26 Palm Ave

      Woodland, CA 95695

      cell 530 908-3836


      From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Kimball Garrett
      Sent: Monday, June 09, 2008 10:10 AM
      To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] a question about the Grinnell and Miller follow on


      This is not the forum to revive tired old debates about scientific
      collecting; those who object to collecting on moral grounds will never
      be convinced to change their "religion" and those who object out of
      ignorance of the scientific value of specimens are better served reading
      the literature than arguing on a listserve. I particularly recommend
      the papers listed at:

      and in particular Van Remsen's 1995 paper in Bird Conservation
      International, a PDF of which is available at:

      I note that the original poster in this thread is supportive of
      scientific collecting, having said: "Now that would be a great idea if
      it were say 10 starlings [that were collected]", and I applaud her for
      that. However, I think it is important to defend the honor of Joseph
      Grinnell, the most important figure in the history of California
      ornithology and bird conservation, from accusations made in this thread.
      In particular,

      > There is an interesting write up by Grinnell about Gray Vireo in Kern.
      > waxes eloquent about blasting 1 or 2, says what great habitat there
      > and how there should be tons of these birds around. I live within 15
      > miles of that spot. I wander in there every year looking for Gray
      > Have never found them and probably never will. My guess is that there
      > were never very many. Who knows, maybe Grinnell's taking finished them
      > off.

      The notion that Joseph Grinnell single-handedly eliminated Gray Vireos
      from Kern County is, simply, absurd. Grinnell collected (oh, excuse me,
      "blasted") "1 or 2", and I doubt that there are more than a half-dozen
      other Gray Vireo specimens in the world's collections from Kern County.
      To chalk up the species' alleged disappearance from Kern to the
      collection of a couple of specimens, and to ignore all of the following
      issues is unrealistic. What about habitat change from grazing, mining,
      off-road vehicles, fires set by yahoos, invasive plant species, and
      climate change? What about the superabundance of Brown-headed Cowbirds
      and the increase of various human-subsidized predators like Common
      Ravens? Why has the Gray Vireo declined in most of its former California
      range even though Grinnell (and others) collected only a few of them in
      only a few portions of their range?

      Similarly, the Grinnell Resurvey Project will not eliminate Sooty Grouse
      from Kern County or anywhere else. The limited bird collecting
      associated with that project is conducted under the same restrictions
      under which all scientific collectors operate. Rare species cannot be
      collected, period. And certain additional species for which there is
      conservation concern can only be collected under a fully vetted MOU,
      which means that the State of California and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife
      Service must approve in each instance, above and beyond their very
      strict standards for issuing collecting permits in the first place.

      The Grinnell Resurvey Project will tell us a great deal about how the
      avifauna of California has changed in the last century because it will
      compare data carefully collected by many of the same methodologies 100
      years apart. The limited number of specimens collected will tell us
      many important things that cannot be determined from observation and
      from trapping and releasing birds (though those remain the dominant two
      methodologies in the Project). For example, exact reproductive condition
      is determined from dissection of the reproductive tract (have breeding
      seasons changed with climate change?); tissues and organs are preserved
      for potential analysis of toxins and other contaminants (are
      environmental contaminants impacting bird populations?); blood and
      tissue samples allow a suite of molecular analyses (have there been
      genetic/evolutionary changes in populations over the past 100 years?);
      exact spectrophotometric and measurement data can be taken (and
      re-taken, over and over) on the preserved skins (are there discernable
      shifts in morphology of bird species at Grinnell's old collecting
      localities? Have subspecies boundaries changes?). The list goes on and

      PLEASE, people. Be aware of and spend your talents and energies
      addressing the REAL conservation issues our birds face. We should be
      celebrating the MVZ's Grinnell Resurvey Project, and celebrating the
      work that Grinnell and his contemporaries did in laying the foundation
      of our knowledge of California's avifauna. And I echo Ed Pandolfino's
      invitation to all of you to attend the WFO meeting in October and hear
      Carla Cicero's talk about this important project.


      Kimball L. Garrett
      Ornithology Collections Manager
      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
      900 Exposition Blvd.
      Los Angeles CA 90007
      (213) 763-3368
      (213) 746-2999 FAX
      kgarrett@... <mailto:kgarrett%40nhm.org>

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com>
      [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com> ] On
      > Of Bob and Susan Steele
      > Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2008 7:57 PM
      > To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com <mailto:CALBIRDS%40yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: [CALBIRDS] a question about the Grinnell and Miller follow on
      > survey
      > Greeting fellow birders, a couple months ago I heard that one of the
      > schools was going to survey the spots done by Grinnell and Miller. I
      > about time. Now I hear that in addition to point counts they are also
      > collecting (or trying to) a series of 10 of every species in the areas
      > they are looking at. Now, I have to say o no. Now that would be a
      > great idea if it were say 10 starlings, but I'm not so keen of them
      > attempting to take, say, 10 Sooty Grouse from Kern Co. Why you may
      > Well, I'd be surprised if there are 10 Sooty Grouse in Kern Co. Some
      > species are rare everywhere and some locally so.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bob and Susan Steele
      Greetings fellow birders, I m still looking for information about the Grinnell resurvey. At website http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Grinnell/index.html I see that
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 9, 2008
        Greetings fellow birders, I'm still looking for information about the Grinnell resurvey. At website http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Grinnell/index.html I see that this "intends to further Grinnell's vision by extensively resurveying the vertebrate diversity at the sites he and his colleagues examined" and "Grinnell Resurvey Project: This map represents the California Life Zones. Boxed on it are some of the proposed project areas for comprehensive resurvey." I can't seem to find a link that provides any further information on the plan. Is there any information that is publicly available?

        Thank you,
        Susan Steele

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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