Yesterday I read an article by Vicki Funk about the state of Natural History Collections and my heart sunk. I have read Vicki’s work when I was learning to make phylogenetic trees by hand, many years ago. I work on systematic biology and I study fishes in museum collections. I have been working in museum collections since I took an undergraduate class on fishes (1995) and I have been associated to museums since then. I will not accept this.
I have been thinking a bout this article and I cannot bring myself to give it a thumbs up on Facebook, although I like the last phrase very much. I think it wraps it all: “This is a critical point in time to work toward a world-wide effort to stop and reverse this attrition.” Then, what to do?
Last year I learned about the Taxonomist Appreciation Day. I thought it was cute. I do taxonomy. Thank you very much. And because I do taxonomy, museums mean everything to me. Wait a second. What did I just say? I looked up for posts on Taxonomist Appreciation Day and read through them. I found out that the first Taxonomist Appreciation day ever was in 2012 (why taxonomist are special), which was also observed by the NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology last year (Happy Taxonomist Appreciation Day!). Now me and many of my taxonomist friends know about it. But we need to do more than sit behind our microscopes and pat our backs at each other.
It is 140 days until next Taxonomist Appreciation Day. Or 20 weeks. The world needs taxonomist to produce much needed knowledge for other professionals to base their work on. Taxonomists depend on Natural History Collections. Neither of them can wait for people to give it a Like on Facebook, or to hear about them through Twitter.
Let’s take our love for organisms to the streets on March 19th, 2015!
More to come.