There was a burst of emails on the ECN list last week about voucher specimens and institutional policies. The timing of this discussion couldn’t be better, as we’re dealing with several batches of vouchers right now—some old, some new, and each with its own set of problems.
First, some reading. If you want to know more about voucher specimens and their importance here are four good articles:
- Yoshimoto, C. M. 1978. Voucher specimens for entomology in North America. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 24: 141–142.
- Huber, J. T. 1998. The importance of voucher specimens, with practical guidelines for preserving specimens of the major invertebrate phyla for identification. Journal of Natural History 32: 367–385.
- Ruedas, L. A., J. Salazar-Bravo, J. W. Dragoo, and T. L. Yates. 2000. The importance of being earnest: What, if anything, constitutes a “specimen examined?” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 17(1): 129–132.
- Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods) (2003) The role of voucher specimens in validating faunistic and ecological research. Document Series No. 9
And a few example departmental or collection voucher policies:
- Michigan State Entomology voucher policy
- North Carolina State University voucher policy
- University of Wisconsin Insect Research Collection voucher policy
- Louisiana State University voucher policy (see page 10)
- Cornell University Insect Collection voucher policy
The Frost Entomological Museum also accepts vouchers, and we’ll be revising our own policy based on this recent email discussion and the papers and examples listed above. Our final policy should make it very clear that (a) researchers should consult with us PRIOR to doing their project, in order to ensure that the resulting specimens are appropriately preserved and labeled and that (b) we reserve the right to refuse any vouchers that do not meet our standards. We also need to (c) develop a mutual strategy regarding the number of vouchers appropriate to any particular project (see photo above).
UPDATE: Here is the closest thing I could find in our Departmental Operational Procedures document to a voucher policy: “Deposit of appropriate, suitably curated, specimens required, as deemed appropriate by the student’s graduate committee.” (page 19)
UPDATE 2 (9.iv.2014): Fixed broken link to LSU grad handbook.