|Biodiversity research in museums: a return to basics|
Miller, E.H. (1993). Biodiversity research in museums: a return to basics, in: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. pp. 141-175
In: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) (1993). Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. The Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria. ISBN 0-7718-9355-8. XIII, 392 pp., more
Museum collections of biological specimens are the fundamental reference material that documents the world's biological diversity. They are essential also for identification purposes, invaluable in educational programs and necessary for countless investigations in environmental biology, ecology, evolution and other fields. Museum collections need to grow and diversify rapidly because of the accelerating loss of the world's species and habitats. Collections growth should be based on: (a) biological inventories of threatened and disappearing habitats; (b) opportunistic acquisition of specimens of rare or endangered kinds of animals and plants; (c) voucher specimens from biological surveys; and (d) diversification, including frozen-tissue collections and audio-visual archives. Museum collecting and research must emphasize poorly known and diverse groups of organisms, as well as groups that are ecologically important and have high scientific, cultural and aesthetic value. Museums are the major contributors to the science of systematics, which embraces classification, taxonomy, evolutionary relationships and evolutionary processes. Basic systematics research and training are declining seriously. It needs to be increased, and museums should take the lead in doing so. Museums also need to educate non-systematic biologists and the general public about the essential role of systematics in the study of biological diversity and in conservation biology generally.