Extinction Dynamics of Endangered Wetland Moth Species

EPA Grant Number: U914776
Title: Extinction Dynamics of Endangered Wetland Moth Species
Investigators: Goldstein, Paul Z.
Institution: University of Connecticut
EPA Project Officer: Broadway, Virginia
Project Period: January 1, 1995 through January 1, 1996
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology


In a recent paper in Conservation Biology, Oliver and Beattie (1996:100) recapitulate and extend their earlier arguments that "the use of invertebrates in some monitoring and conservation research and practice depends neither on knowledge of the Latin binomial [sic] of the species involved nor on specialist examination of entire field samples." Given limited resources available to garner expert cooperation, Oliver and Beattie (1993, 1994, 1996) as well as Beattie and Oliver (1994) advocate the use of species counts by nonspecialists as a shortcut to the assessment of conservation priority and to the procedure of biological monitoring for conservation purposes. The objective of this project does not focus on their use of parataxonomy in estimating raw species richness; rather, it focuses on the extension of such estimates to the setting of conservation priorities and establishment of protocols for biological monitoring.


Parataxonomy, in one form or another, is widely accepted as a useful if not critical component of attempts to assess local and regional species richness in the tropics. In one conception, the role of the parataxonomist is one of a preliminary sorter of samples (usually invertebrate samples) prior to or in conjunction with their examination by specialists (Wheeler, 1995). This practice reduces the amount of time required for accurate determinations. In such a context, parataxonomists are taxon specialists in their own right, having the benefit of accumulated field knowledge to collect uncommon, specialized forms rarely taken by less experienced workers. Another view of the parataxonomist, one advocated by Jazen (Langreth, 1994), and embraced by Oliver and Beattie, is one of a local person who collects whatever taxa scientists currently are sampling (i.e., someone tied to an ecological study site who is used to collect all sorts of organisms). In general, this version of parataxononmy is conducted within the framework of ecological research designed to examine patterns of local species richness (Colwell & Coddington, 1994). Oliver and Beattie have extended the "discipline" of parataxonomy (Beattie & Oliver, 1994) as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, the examination of organisms by organismal biologists. In so doing they have argued against taxonomic knowledge—both at the level and below that of a scientist—in conducting faunistic studies. They have further argued a role for the "morphospecies approach" in conversation decision making.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, conservation, biological monitoring, parataxonomy, parataxonomist., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Monitoring/Modeling, Monitoring, Biochemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, wetland moth, endangered species, conservaton, parataxonomy, biomonitoring