Voucher specimens

Neil Jones Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Sat Sep 20 08:10:38 EDT 1997

In message <Pine.OSF.3.96.970911220850.20392A-100000 at aurora.alaska.edu> fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu writes:
> 	Mark Walker raised a relevant question:
> >Why should it be unacceptable for me to collect unthreatened wild Leps
> >purely for the pleasure of it?
> 	I have spoken up for scientific collecting on a number of occasions,
> but Mark is perfectly correct--collecting _unthreatened_ wild leps 'purely
> for the pleasure of it' is not a problem affecting the survival of leps
> in North America, and presumably not in England either. Lepidoptera are
> not like Doug Yanega's solitary bees--they can survive a bit of predation.
> And note that when Neil Jones mentioned a species being removed from
> a habitat by collecting, he was referring to an organized attempt, includ-
> ing one or more commercial collectors, to overcollect a species known to
> be uncommon.

It was not an attempt to over collect the literature indicates that it was
simply greed by those who did not care.
It is not the only example of this kind of problem but before I put detail into
this, let me reiterate that I do not wish to see collecting banned nor do
I believe that all collectors are irresponsible.
The case in point is a recent one and concerns a rare British Moth the Fiery
Clearwing (Bembecia chrysidiformis). The species is being considered for legal
protection in the UK. A site was badly damaged by collecting when the larvae
were removed with the host plant.

The kind of problem that I as a conservationist have with some of those
with a collecting mind set is perhaps best illustrated by  the reponse that
was written by a well known entomologist in the Bulletin of the Amateur
Entomologists' Society. It was stated that there was no proof that moth
collectors were responsible and that it could have been plant collectors.
The foodplant of the Fiery Clearwing is a plant that no plant collector would
want to collect, curled dock!

Furthermore this defence of collecting went on to attack the protection of other
species on the basis that since the legislation does not protect the habitat
it was simply anti-collecting. This is not true, no-one is more aware of the
failure of our legislation to adequately cover habitats that I am, but the 
scheduling of a species as protection is still a weapon that can be used to
help conserve the habitat. If something is on the protected list it forces
non-conservation arms of goverment to take its status into account, they may not
legally be obliged to do so but you can shame them into action if necessary.

> Whatever the situation may be in England, there are plenty

You would do better to say Britain or the UK. Americans commonly
confuse England with the UK which is made up of severl parts of which
England is only one. I for example am not English nor do I live in England.

> of unthreatened wild lepidoptera in North America. And in the northern
> regions I am familiar with, with their vast expanse and nearly total
> inaccessibility by highway, and immense lep populations, it is difficult
> to conceive of collecting's being any threat to populations. In the state
> of Alaska, approximately 40% of its 365 million acres (including much of
> the best lep habitat) requires permits to collect--so rampant collecting
> does not seem poised to destroy the butterflies...

No but the attitudes it encourages may.

> 	As far as I know, insects lack pain receptors in their nervous
> system, so collecting insects should not be condemned by people concerned
> about 'inhumane' treatment of animals. In my estimation, the increased
> interest in and understanding of insects that can arise through collecting
> is desirable--even if the specimens are not being obtained for scientific
> purposes. (I still would encourage anyone engaged in collecting to seriously
> consider donating the specimens to a museum, since the collection can be
> useful for science even though it was accumulated for other reasons.)
> 	I know Neil is concerned about collecting's sending the wrong
> signals to politicians in charge of protecting habitats. We have an example
> of a different approach to this problem in the fact that hunters appear
> to be a force for conservation of game and waterfowl habitat in the U.S.
> Maybe we should add insects to the roster of 'game' animals?  :-)
> 	There will always be people who object to killing insects out
> of curiosity, acquisitiveness, etc.--even though many of them may kill
> far more insects just by driving, eating food, living in buildings, and
> so forth. As I have said before, they are free not to collect insects,
> but should not interfere with someone else's collecting. A little
> toleration helps...
> 						Ken Philip
> fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
> t[1;2c

Neil Jones- Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk "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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