Re: [beemonitoring] Wanted, estimates of costs for identifying bee specimens
- This is in response to Neil's suggestion of using student help for species
I think that using graduate student's expertise is a good way to weed out
all the easier identifications and could cut costs quite a bit. Us PhD
students are usually willing to do work for things such as travel expenses
or books, or a much more meager hourly wage. HOWEVER, both the student
AND an expert must agree on which groups the student is capable of
identifying to the species level with a reasonable degree of error. This
of course just depends upon the individual student and how much oversight
that student has and what type of reference collection the student has to
The value of the 'expert' cannot be underestimated. Students like myself
would most likely fail to recognize new species in even the easiest groups
unless it was a group that I was particularly interested.
- Hi Sam
ID to species level is a massive problem for pollination studies - in fact it is the single most important rate limiting step in such studies. Competent identifiers are a rare resource - and this is at the UK level. In the farthest flung corners of Europe (often the most bio-diverse) the situation is far far worse.
In our projects in UK we tend to budget for id's as part of my basic costs (determined on a time basis by my University). I know there will be some things I find difficult and we contract out determinations at somewhere around £1.30 per specimen. This cost is regardless of whether it is an easy or a difficult species to determine - it all comes out in the wash at the end. The deal is: University must provide properly prepared and fully labelled specimens. In return they get an identification to species level and the data entered into a database (provided by the University. In addition there will be a 10% sample that is rechecked to ensure QA. The Uni technician HAS to do the basic donkey-work so that identifiers do not waste their time relaxing/preparing/pinning specimens.
At a continental level, we have to put more money aside because there is not likely to be in-house expertise. Basic training of technicians can teach them how to id just a handful of species. Our French colleagues were taught 4 species and these accounted for about 75% of all the specimens requiring determination. The rest were sent to specialists. On average charging between 1 Euro -2 Euros per specimen (depending on who you went to). For complete peace of mind, it would still be wise to do a QA check on the ones removed in the first round of filtering.
Relying purely on the goodwill of specialists is not a great idea, especially if there are a lot of specimens to determine. People identifying things this way are very difficult to press for answers and to get to work to deadlines. We work on the principle that one should NEVER presume on the goodwill, time or expertise of amateurs. If you HAVE to get determinations, you'd be better organising a contract
I hope this is of some help to you
Best wishes for the New Year
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