Herpetological Review

  • Mendelson J
  • Aldridge R
  • Preest M
 et al. 
  • 307


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Cluded touring the many natural history collections archived at The University of Texas at Austin, as well as direct field and laboratory experience in surveying, collecting, and curating specimens. During the first semester the course was offered, it became clear that students needed additional instruction on the nature of museum collections, the relevance of voucher-based collections, and the need for and importance of maintenance and growth of collections. These additional areas of instruction were required to address student concerns that emerged during collections tours when, for example, they confronted for the first time thousands of preserved specimens. The understandable and almost ubiquitous question of why would you need more? focused our attention on the need to specifically address temporal bias present in all historical collections. As long-term collectors we suspected, but did not ourselves fully appreciate, the severe temporal biases present in our own collections. In order to address these concerns, we sought to develop a discovery-based project for the laboratory portion of the course. We developed a data set that would allow students to explore and understand the nature of geographic and temporal biases in collections, and to begin to assess the implications of those biases for interpreting data derived from historical collections. In reviewing the museum and collections literature, we were unable to find a similar study using a comparable data set in the classroom; the results of our discovery-based project are of sufficient interest to the herpetological community that we share them here. METHODS

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  • Joseph R Mendelson

  • Robert D Aldridge

  • Marion R Preest

  • Kirsten E Nicholson

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