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Tuesday Taxonomy

February 22, 2011

Up and across the street to the lab at 7 am this morning, and back to work on wordsmithing and editing the conservation status of freshwater snails. Citizens probably do not appreciate the incredible time and detail required for writing scientific reports. Accuracy is essential, and we try to edit/fact check/study every single detail before completing.

Finally this afternoon we have finished the complete text of the manuscript! Yea, that is one hurdle crossed. Now after the paper cools we all will go back and read it again once we return home. It will be sent out for a final committee review before being submitted this spring.  We are now ready to embark on the next and larger task of reviewing the taxonomic write-ups that Jeff Garner has been producing from our notes and pictures of the types. Many of the species assessments are very short and clear with no taxonomic problems. However, there are some that are a mess and will require concentrated effort to untangle. This will be the project for the morning.

Meanwhile, Thomas Tarpley has been photographing live snails for the Fisheries article. He is the staff artist and photographer.  He scans the original lithograph figure when the species was described and adds the three view, front, side and back views of the type specimens. These four views will be combined into a single picture and then combined with other species to make up a plate for this catalog.

Nathan Whelan, a graduate student at the University of Alabama, is working on a phylogeny of the genus Leptoxis and stopped by the lab this afternoon to review with us his progress on sequencing DNA from these snails. he is making progress and will be presenting his research this spring at a national meeting. The picture of relationships of the genera of snails in the Pleuroceridae are not turning out to be as clear as hoped.

It is a great relief to have the first manuscript out of the way. Jeff Garner is back at the house making a large batch of jambalaya for dinner after another long day.

—Art Bogan

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