Locality data

Tim@ tim@gingerwoodnursery.com
Thu, 01 Nov 2012 22:11:50 PDT

I know a few personally that have worked exclusively from Herbarium sheets.  There is one particular example of a well known taxonomist that was regarded as the world expert in his field that had never been in the field during his "rise."  When he finally made a trip others that were there basically said it was only a photo op.   

I am not saying herbarium sheets are useless by any means.  But when you have a multitude of tools at your disposal, sticking to only one is an almost guarantee that your work is nowhere near as useful as it should be. 

Sticking to what I know best, gingers are a prime example of why herbarium sheets can not provide the full picture.  Gingers flowers and often the plants themselves to not hold up well over time.  There has been so much confusion over many species that herbarium sheets just can't solve.  However the type locations along with notes on some of these very old sheets have helped solve some issues when the plants can still be found in the type location.    The best work in this family is done by taxonomists that utilize multiple disciplines.  For example, when a new species is published the journal or corresponding PDF has detailed accounts of the habitat and plant features, a key separating closely related species, molecular work to show where this species falls in within its genus, and if herbarium specimens were found that had been mislabeled or unknown but thought to be of this species they are referenced as well.   In addition to providing pressed specimens, detailed photogra
 phy including good macro shots etc are included. Using all of these tools makes one's work more valid in my mind and less likely to be dismissed by others in the future. 

There are species and genera that MUST be studied in the field, without this work anyone attempting to work on these plants is wasting their time in the long run.   Yes it is difficult and expensive and will take a huge commitment but a true monographing of these genera can't exist without it. 

There is no excuse for publishing new species in this age without significant proof, yet its happening frequently still.  3 new Zingiberaceae genera published in recent times have been shot down within the last year, and several species. (And more in the works I'm told).   

Tim C

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 1, 2012, at 11:14 PM, Hannon <othonna@gmail.com> wrote:

> Tim C,
> I don't know any taxonomists who never have stepped into the field, and I
> have known many dozens of botanists. How did you form this idea?
> No one would suggest that an herbarium specimen tells the whole story. They
> are essentially permanent records that can remain useful for several
> hundred years. In the case of type specimens they form the referential
> basis for naming plants.
> Dried specimens are the only practical way to sort through variation, for
> example, in a species or genus without doing months or years of field work.
> Herbaria build upon generations of collectors: millions of specimens,
> records of extirpated populations or species, enabling the replication of
> previous studies, and on and on. There is no substitute for this, not even
> DNA samples.
> "There is always more to see and learn than what has already been
> documented."
> Of course. That is why botanists can still find jobs, if they are lucky.
> Dylan Hannon
> _______________________________________________
> pbs mailing list
> pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/list.php
> http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/

More information about the pbs mailing list