By Andrew Hamilton (ed.)
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Additional info for The Evolution of Phylogenetic Systematics
Collecting a few representative or “type” specimens for each species was what mobile explorer-naturalists could do, and collections assembled in this way made type species seem natural and real. The only reason to collect in depth was to acquire duplicates for exchange; only later did its advantages for taxonomic science become clear. This is all somewhat speculative, of course; and it begs the question of when and how exploratory field practice gave way to in-depth survey. One thing is clear, however: it was not a sudden or a simple replacement.
The roster of collecting expeditions by American institutions alone is impressive. S. Biological Survey under its founder and chief C. Hart Merriam fielded dozens of parties per year from the late 1880s to the early 1910s, mostly in western North America. , in California, Michigan, and Nebraska). Research museums organized expeditions both in their own regions and abroad: the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard), the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California), and the University of Michigan Museum.
Equally distinctive of taxonomic science is the social diversity of its practitioners. In principle anyone can describe and name a species, however expert or inexpert he or she may be. Of course all would-be describers must submit to exacting communal rules of describing and naming. And as the practices of diagnosis have become more exacting and quantitative, systematics has gradually become a game for the credentialed and experienced. Yet systematics remains open in principle to lay participation in a way that few sciences are (observational astronomy is another); and that openness affects the science in ways that have no parallel in the laboratory sciences.