Neil's dissertation

Neil Jones Neil at
Thu Sep 4 03:50:22 EDT 1997

In message <199709031821.OAA13428 at> mwalker at writes:
> Thanks for the repost Neil, I must have missed it before.  I do, however, have
> a few comments:
> First of all, none in this forum would argue that it is impossible for a human
> being with a net and a killing jar to _accidentally_ or otherwise terminate the
> last of a species of Lepidoptera.  The likelihood of this happening, however,
> is very small if the status of the species is unknown.  The collector, if they
> were interested in making money, would fair better purchasing a lottery ticket.
>  Even in such cases, the collecting activity can hardly be blamed for the
> extirpation/extinction.

This is often the problem with reposting things verbatim. There is an example
of a day flying moth which was collected to extinction. The New Forest Burnet
moth was exterminated in Southern England in the 1920's Its demise was predicted
by the experts (all collectors) of the day. One dealer was reported to have 
taken around a 1000 specimens and apparently the sites were staked out with
people taking everything as it emerged.

Subsequently a new colony was discovered on the Scottish coast hundreds of
miles away. The colony is very very small and has survived for many years
in numbers often in single figures on a tiny piece of habitat a few metres

These matters were part of the debate before. The archives contain further

> Far more despicable behavior must have preceded it,
> the least not being the failure to collect sufficient scientific data on the
> species in the first place.

After several centuries of collecting we still know comparatively little about
the ecology of many British butterflies. 

> For a listed species, any collecting would be a criminal act - and one which
> would require deliberation and foreknowledge.  In El Segundo, CA. chain link
> fences would have to be overcome.  The act would be in direct violation of any
> Entomological Society's collecting code of conduct, and really doesn't belong
> in this discussion.  I certainly hope you are not generalizing all collectors
> based on the actions of an extreme few.  I further hope you are not suggesting
> that it would be appropriate to restrict the rights of collectors based on the
> actions of an extreme few (and any emotional bias you may have developed).
> Your final paragraph was:
> >  The fact that there are individuals around who will put their own
> > personal desires above the right of a species to exist is further evidence
> > to indicate that it is necessary, in the case of endangered species, to
> > prevent human predation in addition to conserving the habitat.
> I'm not sure what you are saying here.  If you are saying that the collecting
> of endangered species should be outlawed, then noone is arguing. 

At the time that I made the original posting someone _was_ arguing that
endangered species should be collected.

 If you are
> saying that because of endangered species, all collecting should be prevented,
> then hang on because that won't come without serious (and equally emotional)
> opposition.  There is ample scientific evidence to justify and permit the
> collecting of unlisted invertebrates.  This may seem barbaric to some, and
> noone is forcing anyone to participate.  Humble introspection is in order when
> suggesting that _collecting_ is the principal activity which places the desires
> of some over the _right_ of invertebrate species to exist.  We all participate
> in this _unethical_ activity by virtue of our participation in modern society. 
> The products we buy, the low pricing we demand, the _freedoms_ we expect (like
> visiting National Parks), the waste removal we take for granted - there isn't a
> single aspect of our lives which doesn't contribute in a significant way to the
> demise of our vertebrate and invertebrate friends alike (our computers, the
> energy they run on, and the buildings we reside in while using them are just a
> few examples).  And in the case of the insect species, there are many, many,
> many other activities we engage in on a daily basis that result in orders of
> magnitude more casualties than collecting, and yet I don't see anyone being
> forced to hide their automobiles (just to name one).  In short, we really
> shouldn't throw any stones - lest we be guilty of placing our OWN personal
> desires over an other's right to pursue happiness.
> Mark Walker.

Neil Jones- Neil at "The beauty and genius of a work of art
may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a
vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last
individual of a race of living things breathes no more another heaven and
another earth must pass before such a one can be again." William Beebe

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