Scientists working at Archbold Biological Station are interested in many facets of natural history, meaning the entire lifestyle of animals and plants living on the Lake Wales Ridge. This typically is a long, involved process involving a host of people with different areas of expertise. Dr. Jim Carrel, Research Associate at Archbold and former professor at the University of Missouri explains, “The process begins with the ‘discovery phase’ in which an organism is observed in the wild for the first time and notes on where and when it was found are recorded.”
Dr. Carrel states, “Next is the ‘identification phase’, the process of giving the organism both a scientific and a common name.” This involves an expert botanist or zoologist who has training in the internationally recognized rules for scientific naming for any creature on Earth, a discipline called nomenclature. Dr. Carrel adds, “Subsequently, during the ‘inventory phase’ the new organism is added to Archbold’s immense list of organisms and preserved specimens are placed in the natural history (museum-type) collections for reference purposes.” Depending on the organism’s lifestyle, it can be challenging to go beyond the inventory phase. This article is a case study in solving what on the surface seemed a simple, straightforward question. Here’s how it unfolded.
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