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Posted by Tom Lott on January 11, 2003 at 12:40:13:
In Reply to: AOU vs SSAR posted by troy h on January 10, 2003 at 19:22:01:
As another herper/birder (I belong to both the ABA and SSAR), I would suggest that that there are two disparate groups among birders somewhat comparable to those in herpers.
I find that birders who are merely "listers" are generally not very informed naturalists. They may be excellent at bird ID, but generally know very little about the biology of the animals in which they are "interested." These folks seem to slavishly follow standardized lists simply because it helps them to better organize their "life lists" and they know of no alternative. Most listers cannot tell you the scientific name of a bird. To me listers occupy a hobby niche similar to your "herp keepers." I am amused every summer when I see vans of organized birders whip up into the mountains in AZ in a frenzy; they feel they can "do" the Santa Ritas in a day or less! If they "get" their target species, they won't be back. I, on the other hand, have been "doing" the Santa Ritas for 30 years!
The second group of birders are your field people who compare well to field herpers (although not usually as colorful!). These people are very well-informed about their subjects and are almost always interested in a wide spectrum of natural history. This type of birder is much rarer than the lister.
I'm ambivalent on standardized names for herps. Some "standard common names" for herps in areas outside the US seem to simply be made up by the author(s) of the list. My favorite is on Ernie Liner's "standard" list for Mexican herps: for Abronia graminea, the "Terrestrial Arboreal Alligator Lizard"!!!
Thanks for energizing the level of discussion on this formerly kind of staid forum.