Voucher specimens

Doug Yanega dyanega at mono.icb.ufmg.br
Sat Sep 27 16:28:43 EDT 1997

Chris Raper wrote:

>On Mon, 22 Sep 1997 16:32:20 -0800 (AKDT), Kenelm Philip
><fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu> wrote:
>>In my opinion, that is indeed being cynical, since there is another
>>reason why some countries wish foreigners to obtain collecting permits:
>>to avoid having the type specimens of their flora and fauna end up in
>>museums out of the country.
>Good point. But, although it may be awkward if your type specimens are
>located half way around the world, most South American countries (for
>instance) just don't have the resources to devote to studying the
>flora & fauna anyway. The bottom line should be that if someone has
>the time and will to do the research (whether that be in the country
>of origin or at the BMNH) it should be done.

Doing the research, fine, but you can do research without keeping all the
material permanently. This becomes a vicious circle, folks. If virtually
all the types a South American researcher needs to examine are in European
museums that will not send them in the mail, then the cost of doing
taxonomic research becomes prohibitive. Were all those types in collections
in the country of origin, then the logistics and economics of doing the
research would be a lot easier for local experts. The amount of money
required to do good taxonomy, as you know, is NOTHING compared to most
scientific endeavors, and well within the resources of the many, if not
most, South American countries. Basically all one needs is a microscope, a
computer, and time.

>>Some people have stated that certain countries lack the museum
>>facilities to provide proper care for types, and that the types are thus
>>safer in foreign museums. This may be true in some cases--but I can under-
>>stand the feelings of scientists in any given country if foreigners tell
>>them their types are being stored out of the country for their own good!
>I agree that would be rather patronising. I would support a system
>where certain (perhaps large) groups could be permit-only. That way
>the country's own entomologists would be able to work on the group but
>for areas where there was no local study they should open it up for
>foriegners to collect and research. That would also encourage people
>to collect and study the more unusual groups of insects and leave the
>well studied stuff alone.

People are welcome to collect and study things, the issue is repatriation
of the type material so it's possible for local expertise to be
*developed*. Otherwise, again, it's a vicious circle --- "Well, since there
are no Castniid experts in the Americas, then there should be no problem if
I keep all the types I designate here with me in Germany, where the
majority already reside"..."Why are there no Castniid experts in the
Americas?"..."Most of the types are in Germany" (repeat ad nauseum). If you
only repatriate material in groups for which countries already *have*
experts, you are simply perpetuating the cycle.

>Blanket bans are easy to administer but don't help science or
>conservation in the long-term.

I'm not in favor of them, either, and there aren't many countries that have
them, thank goodness.


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-448-1223, fax: 031-44-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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