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Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.

 

The Loss of SciDiversity...?

With increasing interest in technology, the realm of biological sciences may be losing its academic diversity.

Taxonomy in Decline? 

Bird specimens at Louisiana State University. Birds collected from all over the world aid in research on bird biodiversity and speciation. Those who utilize these collections are namely taxonomists.

Bird specimens at Louisiana State University. Birds collected from all over the world aid in research on bird biodiversity and speciation. Those who utilize these collections are namely taxonomists.

Taxonomists are people who name new species and many test the organism's place on the Tree of Life.

They know every tiny character in their organism of interest- whether that be fish, bird, mammal, etc. These people are natural historians and hold an unimaginable wealth of information about their study organisms. 

Their training is incredibly difficult and time consuming- I tried to be a taxonomist myself and found it extremely intense. These people lay the foundational knowledge about the species they study. Without knowing what the animal looks like, what bone is connected to what, what their eggs and babies look like, etc., it's extremely difficult to effectively utilize technology to aid in identifying species successfully.

DNA work and taxonomy are two sides to the same very important coin. 

The importance of taxonomy and taxonomic studies does not end with the identification of new species. Taxonomists are rarer now than ever before because the antecedents to wanting to learn about animals in this detail are being filtered out of our culture. Ask a taxonomist how they got into it- it starts with playing outdoors, having a mentor, and taking part in leisure activities that incorporate science. These activities are being replaced with other, more indoor, activities. 

Taxonomists are in decline and it starts in childhood.

But, make your own decisions- here's the article that got me thinking.

What do you think?

Here is what a museum based on DNA would look like. WOW such color, much peaks, very BORING.  

Here is what a museum based on DNA would look like. WOW such color, much peaks, very BORING.

 

Utilize DNA/technology, but don't lose sight of the importance of the organisms! 

 

Also, as soon as I posted this blog story, I heard the lone, but very awesome, fish taxonomist at Texas A&M, Dr. Kevin Conway, just discovered something cool in clingfish... All because he was looking at the tiny, anatomical details! Story: Tiny, tenacious, and tentatively toxic

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