Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spotting species is an uncertain science

Anecdotal observations are important to scientists trying to determine the range, habitat, and migration habits of a species. But anecdotes can be wrong. Are they too widely accepted? Researchers for the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain Research Stations report that being too quick to accept anecdotal evidence resulted in mistakes in the conservation plans for three species, including the ivory-billed woodpecker. They want scintists and agencies to evaluate such data "on a sliding scale."

COMMENT: No one, including cryptozoologists, thinks every eyewitness account should be accepted. These folks are saying we should raise the bar a notch, and that has merit. The risk is that we could miss important data. It always has been, and always will be, on "a sliding scale."

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