Tiger beetles: Lessons in natural history, conservation and the rise of amateur involvement

David Pearson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction Ecologists, medical researchers, behaviourists, natural resource managers, conservation biologists, policy makers and the judiciary represent some of the vast array of disciplines that have come to rely heavily on basic documentation of insects (Bale et. al 2008; Pimentel et al. 1997), what otherwise can be called natural history studies. Areas that are critical to natural history advances include consistent names (taxonomy), reliable identification, descriptions of behaviour, geographical distribution and population trends (Wilson 2000). Support for professional biologists to pursue these types of data has decreased considerably in the past few decades. Salaries and administrative support have shifted to areas that are considered more sophisticated, hypothesis-driven and with greater opportunities to obtain funding, such as molecular genetics, mathematical modelling and population regulation (Cotterill and Foissner 2010; Felsenstein 2004; Wheeler et al. 2004). As a result, not only are many areas of research at risk for lack of supporting descriptive data but also the availability of information on which we rely for fields such as medicine, agriculture, ecosystem and wildlife management planning and public policy (Wilcove and Eisner 2000). If we can learn from history, we can apply established patterns from the past together with present and predicted future economic indicators to help broaden the pool of those who can contribute to the base of data that professionals no longer feel free to pursue. This plan draws on literature from economics and from recent work on the rise of professional amateur biologists (Pro-Ams) to argue for specific changes in the way contributors to the biological enterprise are recruited, trained and supported in their efforts. New technology and broadened goals present an opportunity for natural history to expand its boundaries by attracting and actively supporting a range of participants far beyond the classical model that is centred on professional biologists. My goal here is to look into what factors may affect the dynamics between amateur and professional insect workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Management of Insects in Recreation and Tourism
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139003339
ISBN (Print)9781107012882
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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