A&M vs Invertebrate Zoology

FJdy4 at cs.com FJdy4 at cs.com
Tue Apr 6 16:00:51 EST 2004

Dear fellow annelidaners,

I fear the news from Texas A&M is only part of a continuing trend.  Part of my 
duties at the Canadian Museum of Nature was to help people to identify various 
marine organisms as part of their thesis studies.  For the last 15 years, I 
received fewer requests from biologists, to none at all, but an increasing 
number for geographic students doing faunal distribution studies!   

With each of these students, I had to explain the basics of systematics and 
the rules of taxonomy (trying to find the "right" name.)  I had to explain 
that you can't use keys to the Pacific Ocean to identify Polychaetes from 
Labrador and Newfoundland (one person had used Ushakov all the way).  I also 
had to explain that some animals they found could not be identified to 
species, even though they 'keyed' out to a particular name (well, actually 
they 'fell through' the key).  As a results, I am happy to report that there 
are quite a few knowledgeable geographers up here, but systemacists and 
taxonomists are hard to find, and we still have no valid keys to the majority 
of the 'sedentaria' found in the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 
Newfoundland, Labrador and the Canadian Arctic.  

Judith Fournier
Canadian Museum of Nature (Retired)

Taking a look at the science magazines available, it became quite clear. 
Biologists were doing chemistry:  molecular systematics, molecular ecology, 
etc.  The chemists seemed to be doing physics.  Physicists were working more 
with numbers and mind experiments.  The math people?  I think they were 
working more and more in another dimension, or two or twenty!  

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