the bad Lycoris site

Jim McKenney
Thu, 16 Nov 2006 14:57:30 PST
The misleading information we saw on that "bad" site for Lycoris squamigera
reminds me of a story.


Many years ago, when I was nurturing a keen interest in several local
amphibian populations, I visited a local nature preserve. I was curious to
learn what they had observed on their site. At the time of my visit, none of
the naturalists was on hand, but when I explained the purpose of my visit,
one of the volunteer helpers had an idea. It turned out that a summer intern
had prepared a survey of the local amphibians recently. 


I was handed a notebook, and my eyes nearly popped as I turned the pages.
After turning a few pages, I was getting the impression that that site must
have one of the best preserved and richest amphibian faunas in the state. I
quickly jumped to the pages for the species of most interest to me: they
were listed as present. 


And then it dawned on me: the intern has simply picked up a few field guides
and, on the basis of the very general distribution maps, listed every
species whose "field guide range" included the site of the preserve. 


In fact, the very ordinary fauna of the preserve included only the usual


Someone mentioned the USDA maps. I got a jolt from those, too, the first
time I saw them. There is a Clematis which grows in Virginia which is very
interesting to me. I checked one of those sites which gives distribution
information. I was astonished to discover that the plant (at least according
to the web site) grew across the river, not far from home. Those maps were
apparently based on state records.


How much sense does it make for a site to be structured in such a way that
to find the answer to a question one must first know that answer? 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7

My Virtual Maryland Garden


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society







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