Let's make sure we all agree on some basic points here:
1. Collecting does not cause species' decline; habitat destruction does.
2. Private collectors provide an invaluable service to the science of entomology (I would be so rash as to guess that the majority of specimens in museums around the world were collected by amateurs and donated at no cost to the museum).
3. Systematics and taxonomy are specimen-based sciences. Collecting and preserving specimens is not an option; it is a basic requirement of the science. And systematics is the only way to know and understand biodiversity.
4. All the species of insects that exist in nature are not represented already in museum collections. All areas of the world have not been collected well or even at all; new techniques often reveal new species even in relatively well-collected areas.
If we accept these points, then we can conclude that collecting does no harm and is necessary to our knowledge of biodiversity.
So where is the SCIENTIFIC justification for restricting the collection of insects? My argument has been for years that there is no SCIENTIFIC justification for such restrictions and that other motives and agendas have come into play in this arena.
Now, to address Mr. Raghu's point quoted above. As much as most of us chafe atthe redtape involved in permitting, we want to collect legally and not be waiting for that late-night knock on our doors from the Fish and Wildlife stormtroopers. So we are willing to apply for permits. What does deserve a slap on the wrist are those countries (and there are many) that:
- require permits but seemingly have no mechanism through which to obtain one;
- have such confiscatory conditions to their permits that there is no point in collecting;
- or,. most commonly, refuse to answer inquiries (by letter, FAX, or e-mail) about their permitting requirements.
--Michael C. Thomas, Ph.D.Florida State Collection of ArthropodsFlorida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesP.O. Box 147100Gainesville, FL 32614-7100Telephone: (352) 372-3505 FAX: (352) 334-0737 e-mail:
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Last modified on Sunday, 3 January 2016