Caveat


I have taken all of the pictures on this site, beginning in 2001, within 3 or 4 km of the village of Commanster.

The species which I have photographed are not a representative sample, or inventory, of those living in this region: they are those that I have happened to observe at times of day when the light is suitable for nature photography.

Ecological relationships of habitat and pollination represent my limited personal observations. I obtained most predator-prey feeding relationships from the literature.

For the scientific names, I have used Fauna Europaea for Animalia, Flora Europaea and Euro + Med PlantBase (species) and the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (families) for Plantae, and Index Fungorum for Fungi.

I am not an expert in any field of biology and can give no guarantee that any species is correctly identified. In many cases (especially Arthropoda and Fungi), microscopic examination is necessary for identification to the species level. Because I do not have the skills nor the equipment for doing this, in such cases, I have generally selected the name of that species, from among the possibilities, which is most probable given the date and habitat.

My identification error rate appears to vary with the state of scientific knowledge in the various disciplines, the extremes probably being the relatively low rate, for example, for Chordata, Lepidoptera, and Odonata which are well-studied and in the public eye, and the very high rate, for example, for Braconidae and Ichneumonidae which are a disaster area (i.e. in dire need of revision), not even the specialists being able to help much (perhaps it would be easier for them if I drew the image of a pin through the specimen in each picture...).

Many professional biologists, listed at Corrections, have helped to correct my identification errors, but all those remaining are my responsibility. Please report any errors to jlindsey@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

A Note on Identification Keys

Most identification procedures for biological species still assume that the organism has been "collected". In most countries, for birds, this was made illegal without a permit more than a century ago and should be for all organisms. Using modern digital cameras, one should be able to identify and record most living organisms through photography. At present, this is not possible because virtually no identification keys are available for this purpose. Modern keys invariably require information about physical aspects of an organism not visible in photographs so that the user following the binary steps rapidly comes to a dead end.

Introductory biology texts explain that a valid identification key must contain a precise description of each species after the binary table so that the user can check that he or she has not made a mistake in one of the binary steps. Most modern keys are invalid in this sense. Thus, they are only useful for the small handful of experts who already know the answer. To be helpful for the naturalist, such descriptions must include details of habitat, food, and activity (flowering, flight,...) periods, as well as physical details such as size, shape, and colour. It would also be useful for the key first to specify which aspects of an organism are important to be visible in photographs.

Given its present characteristics, it is not surprising that taxonomy is, tragically, said to be a dying art, unable to recruit new students.

J.K. Lindsey


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