I agree with Rob.
I strongly disagree with the content of recent posts accusing state and
federal biologists of being alarmist (for listing species without sufficient
knowledge of their current distributions), idle (for doing no more than
listing those species), provincial (for supporting only those species and
activities related to fishing), and inexperienced (for relying on prior
studies on which to base conclusions rather than years of first-hand
experience with local populations).
Firstly, these "generalizations" may have some very limited application in
reality, but they do not characterize the majority of professional field
Secondly, an understanding of and an appreciation for any biological
phenomenon is just as likely to improve with an observer's breadth of
experience as it would their focus. Local experts (naturalists, commercial
fishermen, etc.) have one kind of knowledge, but so do individuals who have
worked less intensively on a small scale, but more extensively on broader
geographic, taxonomic, and topical scales. Its not always necessary to spend
years of your life gazing into Walden Pond or tramping around Sand County to
understand the critical processes that go on there.
Lastly, most of the field biologists that I know work long hours, and spend
much of their limited free time educating themselves in their own discipline
(or in related topics). Many of them devote substantial time, resources,
energy, and their own funds doing habitat improvement projects,
environmental monitoring, and public outreach. They do that because they
love what they do and because they want others to experience the same
satisfaction they get from doing biology.
Its great to go out, collect fish, and set up aquaria. Its an important
part of what our members do, but its not the most important part of native
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