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Role of taxonomy in surveys of bees.

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  • Sam Droege
    All: I come from a vertebrate population survey and monitoring background. So when embarking on my bee phase it took me a while to clue into the fact that
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2008


      I come from a vertebrate population survey and monitoring background.  So when embarking on my “bee” phase it took me a while to clue into the fact that while collecting bee specimens was quite easy (ignoring for the moment all those various sources of bias and variation) but getting consistent identifications and even names was (and still is) the greater bottleneck.


      With that in mind, it is clear that there is a far greater roll for taxonomy in any upcoming survey program than in past vertebrate ones.  In my mind we should be quite explicit as we go along to develop a strategy and funding mechanism for basic taxonomic research (both morphologically and genetically) and think that museums and the Barcode of Life projects both have great potential.


      In addition to the straight ahead species, names, and identification is work with existing museum materials.  While this requires taxonomy to sort through past determination errors, it really becomes our only way to retrieve past information on status.  It may be limited in so many ways statistically but there is no other way to determine past distribution and status.  As John mentioned this will require mapping, vetting old information, and databasing. 


      Finally the role of museums in any upcoming survey program will be important as a monitoring program for bees (invertebrates in general) will require a vouchered set of specimens left in place for future generations to check our work.  Additionally, there will be continued need for simple exporatory work that collects in a more opportunistic manner.  I think that can lead into inventory or punctuated monitoring efforts such as atlases, but that will become the grist for the upcoming discussions.

      Sam Droege  Sam_Droege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705

      On Discovering a Butterfly

      I found it and I named it, being versed
      in taxonomic Latin; thus became
      godfather to an insect and its first
      describer -- and I want no other fame.

      Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
      and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
      in the secluded stronghold where we keep
      type specimens it will transcend its dust.

      Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
      poems that take a thousand years to die
      but ape the immortality of this
      red label on a little butterfly.

           -- Vladimir Nabokov

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