The successful conservation of biodiversity depends in part upon an accurate assessment of the diversity to be preserved. This assessment is in the domain of systematics, taxonomy, and general comparative biology. Specimens play a central role in this science, and research collections thus represent the touchstone of biodiversity. The massive job of describing and understanding avian diversity is far from complete, yet the specimen basis for much‐needed work is not being added to our collections; current holdings are inadequate. The dwindling influx of specimens is due primarily to opposition to collecting, which is fueled by (1) focusing conservation at the level of the individual; (2) unfamiliarity with population biology; (3) misunderstanding of scientific research; (4) typological thinking; and (5) misplaced morality. Specimen‐based avian research has a long and scientifically strong history, and the benefits of this research have been extensive. Our research collections must serve as functional biological libraries. The majority of avian populations can easily withstand the relatively tiny levels of collecting required to keep this science vigorous. Insofar as avian conservation necessarily includes the preservation of a myriad of species comprising the ecosystems upon which birds rely, this problem has broad implications for the conservation of biodiversity.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1996
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