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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED BIOSYSTEMATICS AND TAXONOMY FOR PARASITES AMONG UNGULATES AND OTHER VERTEBRATES Title: Why Museums Matter: a Tale of Pinworms (Oxyuroidea: Heteroxynematidae) among Pikas (Ochotona Princeps and O. Collaris) in the American West.

Authors
item Hoberg, Eric
item Pilitt, Patricia
item Galbreath, Kurt - DEEB, CORNELL UNIV.

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 12, 2009
Publication Date: January 4, 2009
Citation: Hoberg, E.P., Pilitt, P.A., Galbreath, K.E. 2009. Why Museums Matter: A tale of pinworms (Oxyuroidea: Heteroxynematidae)among pikas (Ochotona princeps and O. collaris) in the American West. Journal of Parasitology. 95:490-501.

Interpretive Summary: In biology and parasitology, confusion over issues of taxonomy (the accurate names for organisms) and the host and geographic distributions of species are not uncommon. In resolving such challenges, permanent museum collections and the specimens held in such repositories are critical, whether these represent irreplaceable type series (the specimens that represent a particular species) or the vouchers that document associations on varying temporal and spatial scales. Specimens, associated data and well supported permanent collections provide a solid foundation for the process of systematics research through creation of an empirical record which validates our understanding of the biosphere. Increasingly collections reside at the core for development of resources for biodiversity informatics which embody a comprehensive understanding or summary of knowledge about the identity, geographic distribution, ecology, phylogeny, population structure and history of organismal diversity. Concurrently collections serve as historical and environmental baselines with which to assess ecological perturbations and changing faunal structure including invasive species and emerging diseases, emanating from such processes as global climate warming and other anthropogenic and natural phenomena. We explore the role of museum collections in ongoing studies of the complex helminth fauna characteristic of pikas (Ochotona spp.) in the American west. These studies address the taxonomy for pinworms of the subfamily Labiostomatinae and the problems associated with the absence of adequate type series and vouchers, and misidentifications in original descriptions. We demonstrate that only 2 species of large pinworms, namely Labiostromum (Labiostomum) rauschi and Labiostomum (Eugenuris) talkeetnaeuris are widely distributed in the American Pika and the Collared Pika. Although this serves to clarify the taxonomy for species in these genera, prior records remain confused as representative voucher specimens from all major surveys in North America were never submitted to museum collections. We suggest strongly that type and voucher series should not be held in private or personal collections where such are eventually lost or discarded, or destroyed through neglect due to inattention and the absence of curation. The potential to accumulate meaningful baselines for assessment of environmental change is jeopardized if materials from survey and inventory are not routinely submitted to museum collections. The capacity of museum repositories as a focus for systematics, ecology and evolutionary studies and the development of resources for biodiversity informatics continue to be undervalued and poorly utilized by a cadre of scientists that are dependant on accurate and definitive information that transcends specific disciplines.

Technical Abstract: Permanent and well supported museum collections provide a solid foundation for the process of systematics research through creation of an empirical record which validates our understanding of the biosphere. We explore the role of museums in ongoing studies of the complex helminth fauna characteristic of pikas (Ochotona spp.) in the American west. These studies address the taxonomy for pinworms of the subfamily Labiostomatinae and the problems associated with the absence of adequate type series and vouchers, and misidentifications in original descriptions. We demonstrate that the types for Labiostomum (Labiostomum) coloradensis are identical to some specimens in the syntype series representing Labiostromum (Eugenuris) utahensis, although the published descriptions are in disagreement. Both are identical to Labiostomum (Eugenuris) talkeetnaeuris and as a consequence are reduced as junior synonyms. Only 2 species of large pinworms, namely Labiostromum (Labiostomum) rauschi and Labiostomum (Eugenuris) talkeetnaeuris are widely distributed in O. collaris and O. princeps. Although this serves to clarify the taxonomy for species in these genera, prior records remain confused as representative voucher specimens from all major surveys in North America were never submitted to museum collections. We suggest strongly that type and voucher series should not be held in private or personal collections where such are eventually lost or discarded, or destroyed through neglect due to inattention and the absence of curation. The potential to accumulate meaningful baselines for assessment of environmental change is jeopardized if materials from survey and inventory are not routinely submitted to museum collections. The capacity of museum repositories and natural history collections as a focus for systematics, ecology and evolutionary studies and the development of resources for biodiversity informatics continue to be undervalued and poorly utilized by a cadre of scientists that are dependant on accurate and definitive information that transcends specific disciplines.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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