DNA

Species in a world that thinks there is a clear division between basic and applied science

Humans are an inconsistent lot, but you would think that might not apply as much when it comes to science, and yet it does.  Even in science are still plenty of ways in which topics lead to opposing and confused viewpoints.  Around my institution these days the terms “applied” and “basic” science are being kicked around at the same time we are discussing “species” as a theme that cuts across research programs.  In terms of birds, this comes just as the much anticipated last volume of Handbook of Birds of the World arrived in the mail (sent to the Bird Division by Lynx Editions because of photos Mary Hennen took from our collection for the volume). It includes articles describing 15 new bird species from Amazonia, and as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Jason Weckstein and I were co-authors on two of these descriptions with Jason overseeing the gathering of DNA sequence data that helped support the descriptions.  In all, ten of these 86 recently described species involve Field Museum staff and collections in some direct way. Then there is also the description of the new species of Hero Shrew, on which I am a grateful co-author based on work by mammalogist colleagues including Bill StanleyJake Esselstyn and Julian Kerbis with appeared in Biology Letters several weeks ago.

North American Ornithology: Past, present, and future comes to Chicago

The Field Museum and the Palmer House served as the meeting sites for 650 ornithologists from August 13-17.  These were joint meetings of the two largest North American ornithological societies, the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society.  

Ornithologists of the Field Museum play major role in discovery and discription of new species

I adopted the following from something I submitted to the museum's Science and Education News several weeks ago.  The photo is one of only a handful of specimens of the recently described Tsingy Rail (Canirallus beankaensis) in the world (see below).  It is a roadkilled bird that was obtained by Steve Goodman (given to him in Madagascar) and it will eventually be given to our dermestid beetles for the cleaning necessary for it to be what is probably the only skeleton of this species in the world's museums. 

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