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Type: Article
Published: 2007-12-21
Page range: 47–54
Abstract views: 32
PDF downloaded: 1

Archives of a small planet: The significance of museum collections and museum-based research in invertebrate taxonomy*

Virginia Museum of Natural History, 21 Starling Avenue, Martinsville, VA 24112 USA
General value of natural history collections systematics funding


Museum natural science collections are valuable, in many cases irreplaceable, and vital to research in many disciplines including taxonomy. Since 96% of known multicellular animals belong to one or another of the 34  invertebrate phyla, the value of those collections for invertebrate taxonomy (of both living and fossil taxa) is even higher.  Systematic work that does not rely on museum specimens to verify or falsify the identities of the taxa studied is not science. Whether the techniques used are molecular or morphological, high tech analysis, or careful observation, systematics is the primary and most essential use of museum invertebrate collections. Their value and the case for their support for this primary and many other compelling reasons has been argued eloquently time after time, yet support still lags far behind needs.


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