Systematic collection data in North American invertebrate conservation and monitoring programmes


P. Z. Goldstein, Division of Insects, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA (fax +312/665 7754; e-mail


  • 1Although likely to yield less copious collections than their tropical counterparts, temperate inventories focused on invertebrates require individuals not only trained to deal with a wide array of taxa but also versed in the techniques used to process and archive specimens.
  • 2Due in part to the prevalence of physically intensive conservation management practices (e.g. prescribed burning) or resource management practices (e.g. selective logging), and in part to a better understanding of temperate invertebrate faunas relative to their tropical counterparts, temperate conservationists bear an inescapable responsibility for monitoring the effects of such practices on species assemblages of conservation concern.
  • 3Counterintuitively, North American conservation programmes, particularly those involving monitoring, run the risk of turning away from concerns for invertebrate assemblages, despite their being relatively well-understood, recognized as powerful conservation tools or indicators, and in some areas the demonstrable majority of the most threatened of animal species.
  • 4Synthesis and applications. To prevent further erosion or underuse of invertebrate monitoring and inventories, there is a recognizable need for professional space in the North American conservation community for parataxonomist-like individuals. These should be trained to deal with both the required field procedures and the standards and practices associated with maintaining systematic voucher and reference collections in natural history museums and herbaria. In particular, the relevance of discovery-orientated biological inventories and collections-based systematic research to the design and implementation of adequate natural areas management and monitoring remains underemphasized and underappreciated by some allegedly science-based conservation programmes.