kevinkk wrote: ↑Sat Feb 04, 2023 4:39 pm
..., seemed a little obsessive, ... collector had what must have been
thousands of Colias, ...
I'm struggling to think of something significant that was accomplished by anyone who was NOT obsessive.
As for a series of thousands...
The North American Lycaenid guys did some genetic analysis, and turned the field guides upside down. Now they're scrambling to find fairly common blues from fairly common locations; nobody had bothered to collect them because they were, for a century, just common blues.
I've caught, and raised, thousands of Callosamia promethea. So many would come to the lights that I'd take them around the dark side of the house and toss them into the forest, hoping they'd go away. I retained only a few that stood out as brilliant or different. Then one day I pulled out my Callosamia drawer- which held only a half dozen pair- and stopped: THAT is not promethea, that's angulifera. And I looked at the others- that wasn't the only angulifera specimen! So a month ago this came back to me, along with the fact that Saturnids have disappeared, so I dug out my papered specimens and sure enough, those I had from 1980s are ALL promethea. Unfortunately in a way, the papered specimens I pulled out were those that had been forgotten when I'd given away thousands of specimens to Cornell only three months ago. And in what I donated, I know for a fact that there were promethea...but I don't know if there were angulifera. Besides which I also have specimens I can't tell if they are promethea or angulifera, and all date within the past decade or so; the older ones are all promethea. So now I have to wait for Cornell grad students to set all those to figure out what the heck happened to promethea & angulifera in my area.
My research on Tiger Swallowtails in NY has well demonstrated the need for series. In examining three private collections from 1970s-1980s with 14,000 and 6,000 and 3,000 specimens respectively, each collection held but a dozen Tiger Swallowtails. Why? Because they were just Papilio glaucus, they were common. And not just private collections- institutional collections suffer the same hole. And the geneticists also were missing test specimens from NY/ PA/ CT, but had plenty from VA and MI. That's now taken care of.
My field work in 2022 yielded 84 local specimens. Half were frozen and went to the geneticists. The other half were set for morphological analysis. And what that revealed caused me to take my 2021 unpublished paper and throw it away. A series demonstrates consistency, but also outliers; add in the specimens I got in KY and PA and it becomes clear that oft-published morphological identifiers are not at all reliable.
So yes, there are a number of reasons to have a series. I never bought into keeping series, but I am a firm believer now.