Museum Collections Can Assess Population Trends

Jeff Boundy

in Amphibian Declines

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520235922
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929432 | DOI:
Museum Collections Can Assess Population Trends

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Early warnings of amphibian declines have been realized as species have vanished, or disappeared from large portions of their ranges. These population declines have alerted biologists and conservation agencies to the need to combine proactive evaluation of status and trends with retroactive research on causes of disappearances. An abundance of baseline data exists in the form of museum voucher specimens. Far from being just specimen “libraries” for systematists, museum vouchers offer a wide range of natural history data for a number of biological disciplines. Under some circumstances (long-term, generalized acquisition of specimens from a specific region), museum specimens offer verifiable historical records that can be used in trend analyses. Under the assumption of equal collection effort per species per time period, collection trends for amphibians can be assessed by comparing percentage of recent captures to historical captures. To determine the utility of this method in identifying amphibian population trends, this chapter analyzes data from four Louisiana museums that focused collection efforts on Louisiana's Florida parishes.

Keywords: Louisiana; Florida parishes; amphibians; population declines; population trends; museums; museum vouchers; specimens; collection; captures

Chapter.  3308 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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