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2500RE: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question

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  • Virginia L Scott
    Nov 8 3:36 PM

      Hi Jessica


      As others have said, to get accurate *species* level bee identifications, you have to collect specimens, but I work in a Museum, so obviously I don’t have a problem with killing insects. 


      I’d just like to put a spin on this thread and advocate for the dead.  Collecting specimens not only provides you with material that can be accurately identified for your study, it also provides vouchers that other researchers can refer back to as taxonomy advances (which it inevitably will).  But those same specimens can be used in a myriad of other ways.  We loan specimens all the time for taxonomic and systematic study.  This is no longer simply based on morphology, but increasingly involves DNA extraction.  While an exceptional photograph may show the morphology needed to identify a specimen to species, it will never provide DNA.  For that, you need specimens.  Catalogues and species lists for given areas are based on archived specimens.  Without those specimens, how would we gain the knowledge necessary to compile these baseline data?  Consider the fact that museum specimens are used by ecologists for the basis of their research and natural heritage programs to determine what may need to be protected.  Additionally, specimens are used to educate the public through exhibits, open houses, and identification services and undergraduates through behind-the-scenes collections tours and even employment opportunities.  We often host art students and faculty who request (limited) access to photograph or sketch specimens.  One of our Bombus nevadensis is the basis for artwork, soon to be appearing on a bus shelter across from campus.  Talk about public education!


      Museums document history through artifacts and specimens, and we must keep in mind that today is tomorrow’s history.  If we stop collecting, we ultimately loose our history.  I would highly recommend getting in touch with a collection that could serve as a repository for your specimens prior to doing any collecting so that the specimens can be collected and preserved in a way (and with complete label data) as to provide for a variety of future uses. 


      That being said, I do occasionally run into people who do not want me collecting on their property.  That is their right, and I respect that.  At the same time, I don’t waste my time and effort pretending to do science when I can’t collect voucher specimens or provide accurate identifications (usually with the help of others).


      Just a Museum perspective,


      Virginia Scott

      Entomology – Collections Manager

      University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

      265 UCB – MCOL

      Boulder, CO 80309-0265

      Work: 303-492-6270



      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jessica Beckham
      Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2012 9:41 AM
      To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question



      Hello All,


      I am a PhD student who is developing a project to assess bee pollinator diversity in urban gardens in my area (Denton, Texas).  I understand that the best methods for assessing bee diversity involve collection of bees via hand netting and bowl traps, especially for a novice at bee identification like myself.  However, I am wondering if there are any accepted no-kill methods for assessing bee diversity. The reason is that, although I have had multiple local urban gardeners and homeowners express interest in my project, some are hesitant to participate because they realize that bees are important resources and they do not want to help reduce the already limited populations.  To an extent I can see this point and am thrilled that citizens are aware of the situation that our pollinators are facing.  I thought I would address this group to see if anyone has used/knows of methodology for assessing bee diversity without killing bees.  Furthermore, has anyone dealt with similar experiences?   


      Thanks in advance!


      Jessica Beckham

      Ph.D Student

      University of North Texas, Institute of Applied Science


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