4JC-Ambivalence #1

Clay Taylor CTaylor at worldnet.att.net
Wed Jul 9 10:02:15 EDT 2003

All -

    Let's not forget that for YEARS the ornithological community derided the
Audubon Christmas Bird Counts with many of the same arguments that are being
used against the Xerces / 4JC / NABA / whatever-you-want-to-call-'em Counts.
However, after 100 years of "CBC count data", the sheer bulk of the
sightings over the time frame served to overwhelm the non-scientific aspects
of the data collection and reportage, and serious bird-scientists are mining
the CBC data for trends, etc.

    Yes, the 4JCs are a social event, and we stop counting "everything" in
the afternoons to order focus on the species total in order to "beat" the
other regional counts.   And yes, my counting technique is certainly
different from Alex's and MG's, but if I do my counting the SAME way in the
SAME areas for 10+ years, there is a good chance that any emerging "trend"
may in fact be worthy of a more rigorous treatment by a "real"

Looking forward to having fun this weekend in Salisbury, CT,

Clay Taylor
Moodus CT
ctaylor at att.net

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Gochfeld" <gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu>
To: <leps-l at lists.yale.edu>; "'TILS leps talk '"
<TILS-leps-talk at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2003 8:07 AM
Subject: 4JC-Ambivalence #1

> After a couple of weeks of deliberation and two butterfly counts, I have
> to respond to what (with Alex's permission) we can call the ""Grkovich
> There have been other responses, but I'll keep the thread alive.
> On June 24, "Grkovich, Alex" wrote:
> > Martin,
> >
> > To my feeling, these "butterfly counts" are little more than social
> > gatherings for like-minded people who othwerwise, in many casess, have
> > nothing else to do with themselves. It seems to me that, again in many
> > cases, many such people have deludeed themselves into believing that
> > are actually contributing something to science...and replacing the work
> > the Lepidopterist.
> >
> > Alex
> I have vigorously recommended that butterfly counters NOT rely on the 15
> diameter circle, originated by the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, nearly a
> century ago. (I say nearly a century because although the first CBC was in
> it did not require a 15 mile circle).
> On the other hand, I am the compiler of THREE 4JC's (two in NJ and one in
> and I participate on several others.
> SECOND I agree with Alex  that "butterfly counts" are social gatherings
> like-minded people, and I enjoy them immensely.
> Whether they are little more than that,  I (and responders) can examine in
> weeks to come.
> THIRDLY I don't know whether as Alex feels:  "many such people have
> themselves into believing that they are actually contributing something to
> science".
> In my view, many participants are not especially concerned with
> something to science (although happy to do so), and I am confident, that
if there
> were a proclamation that the counts had NO SCIENTIFIC VALUE, it would not
> the participation rate one "whit" (whatever a "whit" is).
> FOURTHLY: If it were suddenly proclaimed that the 4JCs were of GREAT
> VALUE, would that have any bearing on the work of "The Lepidopterist".
> FIFTHLY:   What is the work of "The Lepidopterist"?  What source(s) should
we use
> to define ourselves.  Does everyone on this list even consider themselves
> "lepidopterists"  Is membership in the LepSoc necessary or sufficient to
> oneself as a lepidopterist (I would answer "no" to necessary and probably
> to sufficient.
> SIXTHLY:  I hate to say it, but I would guess that many butterfly watchers
> wouldn't be aware of what lepidopterists actually do (once we figure out
what we
> do), just like many bird  watchers only know that "ornithologists study
> (or treat arthritis).
> I've gotten up to six, and this is just my first message on the scientific
> or lack thereof, of the 4JC.
> Well two more counts coming up this month.  MIKE GOCHFELD:
> PS  Since Anne has pointed out lack of traffic on leps-l, I am
cross-posting this
> (sorry for double-posting)
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