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Re: [diatom_forum] Diatom Directions

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  • Richard Carter
    Rob, Thanks for your post!  I think Loren Bahls is a very interesting guy, indeed.  We exchanged a few emails after his book on Stauroneisappeared.  That
    Message 1 of 38 , Apr 27, 2012

      Thanks for your post!  I think Loren Bahls is a very interesting guy, indeed.  We exchanged a few emails after his book on Stauroneis appeared.  That book is very impressive, in my opinion.  And my funding comes from the same source as his...................

      That paper by Mann is both fascinating and depressing, and certainly supports my belief that the amateur is now firmly excluded from the world of diatom taxonomy.  This leaves me in a serious quandary; since my interest in diatoms has centered pretty exclusively on floristics, I'm now left with nothing to do but look at them as esthetic objects.  You can't do biogeography if you can't name the taxa you find..............

      In the past week or so my pessimism has risen to the point that I am considering spending my remaining years doing something more productive with my time.  I'll finish up processing what samples I have remaining, and will make strew slides for those to whom they have been promised.  Then I'll see what the future holds.  At the moment I'm spending some time with Devonian Ostracoda and Miocene Foraminifera, two groups in which I also have interests.  And studying desert plants, of course!

      All the best,


      PS  You got the Latin quote quite right.  And anyone who can quote Feynman ranks highly.  "The pleasure of finding things out" has been a driving force for me, too.  I use that as an explanation for not being rich and famous!

      From: Rob <kimmich46@...>
      To: diatom_forum@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 2:12 PM
      Subject: [diatom_forum] Diatom Directions


      This latest note of yours to Charles is hugely important to my amateur
      diatomist efforts!

      The last few weeks I have been mulling over how to approach the study of
      diatoms which interests me so much. As you said so well, limited optics
      and limited reference material prevent me from effectively telling one
      diatom from another, beyond the genus, usually. As with most of the
      vascular plants I know, I am finding I may be happy with just narrowing
      a diatom down to genus, with the occasional species when it is

      A few minutes ago I thought I would check Diatoms of the US for any
      insight. I quickly ran across the bio of Loren Bahls [1]. You have to
      read it and note his current funding source! I howled when I read it. By
      the way, each link on his bio page goes to an excellent image of diatoms
      he has worked on, in the usual high quality of the Diatoms site. Seeing
      most of them as SEM micrographs reminds me of how important that
      instrument is for distinguishing one form from another.

      Also, check out the quotes introducing David Mann's species review
      (1999) [2]. Looks like the latin quote, "Scis quod dicunt: uno diatomate
      viso, omnia visa sunt", puzzles out to, "you know what they say: seen
      one diatom, seen them all." I don't believe that for a minute, but it
      does introduce some humor into the conundrum we undertake.

      With my interests in water ecology and image databases, I am wondering
      how I might be able to develop some satisfactory image collections based
      mostly on genus, for sample sites I visit. As you say in the forum
      introduction, there are lots of reasons for working with diatoms. To
      paraphrase Richard Feynman, the best I may be able to do is to continue
      to have "the pleasure of finding things out."

      Best regards,

      [1] http://westerndiatoms.colorado.edu/about/participant/bahls_loren

    • Richard Carter
      Rob, A very stimulating post!  I think your list of questions is excellent -- I m sure each of us would offer different answers, but I also think that we
      Message 38 of 38 , May 2, 2012

        A very stimulating post!  I think your list of "questions" is excellent -- I'm sure each of us would offer different answers, but I also think that we each need to consider such questions.

        Thanks much,


        From: Rob Kimmich <kimmich46@...>
        To: diatom_forum@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 12:10 PM
        Subject: [diatom_forum] Diatom Directions


        Your note adds a lot to this great discussion of amateur study of diatoms. I have had your experience of using the SEM images to explain what I see with the LM. Dick has been one of my main sources for learning, too.

        I see this discussion as what to do about distinguishing species, if that is possible for anyone, even with an SEM and a molecular lab. Even Dick, with the university library in Phoenix, is challenged, as he says. From my seat, the naming discussions have been cordial so far, e.g., Charles asking Dick to clarify a name as far as possible and Dick replying with a careful answer.

        I certainly share the frustration I think I hear from Dick about pinning down an identification. I am finding that taking on any of this demands an acceptance of just not being able to know. Your point about not caring about naming accuracy may be the way to go here.

        Hearing from you, Dick, and Dave helps me try to figure out what direction I want to take with all the images that I am accumulating and what it is I want to learn. Do I want to make species (or genus) lists of collections made? Am I happy with naming to genus? Do I want to learn more ecology? How important is sharing what I learn? (This forum has been a good place for that so far.) Do I want to continue developing LM technique?

        By the way, would you be willing to ID some extant Mastogloia from the California desert?

        Best regards,

        On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:08 AM, klaus.kemp <klaus.kemp@...> wrote:
        Due to a catastrophic meltdown of my hard drive on my laptop I have been kept out of the loop for some time, only to find that where evryone behaved and everyone gained something from the group I now find there are ripples of dissent] and over what NAMES!
         May I remind you all that when I first joined the group I quoted my dear friend Bernard Hartley who on our first meeting said " We must/ should never fall out over a name". Now I find that there is dissent over naming of Diatoms, those of you old enough and studied Diatoms before the advent of TEM, SEM will remember the advocates of doom and gloom saying these would be the death of amateurs. As it turned out it was far from the truth with the instruments often showing details which had been seen by amateurs and in fact the reverse was also true we often went back to our slides after seeing an SEM photo and lo and behold we now see what has been missed before.
         This brings me to my main point, do not throw your dummies out of the pram over such an issue as names of Diatoms, I was very intimidated by the naming of Diatoms until I joined this group and Charles has been instrumental in my starting to enjoy this, true my main reason for avoiding that was lack of literature and with each of Charles's posting I learned a little more.
          Charles if you are serious about throwing in the towel would you consider exchanging emails with me and continue your excellent teachings? I would be honoured and do not give a damn about if you are up to date within the last hour.

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