Borrow or Publish

My aphid collection is approaching 8,000 slides, with probably at least 20,000 specimens (being entirely funded by my personal bank account, I conserve money and time by mounting 3 or 4 specimens on each slide) of about 600 identified species. In that collection are many interesting finds – apparently undescribed species, strange host associations, apparent range expansions, new North American records, unidentifiable material, specimens intermediate between recognized species, plus many specimens that beautifully support existing descriptions. I could probably stop collecting now and publish papers the rest of my life based on my collection and material borrowed from other major collections.

The thing is that publishing papers takes a lot of time and effort, and actually costs a lot of money for “page charges” in most journals ($40-70 per page). Plus, who really cares about the natural geographical or host ranges of obscure aphid species… maybe 4 or 5 humans on the planet at any given time? Also, I get frustrated with digging up all those inane details about previous papers saying this or that, or using this or that name. In the end, none of it matters anyway because the world will end with the eventual nova of the Sun in a few billion years. Bottom line is that one big reason for this website is to tell people who care (those 4 or 5 on the planet, in case a couple of them are interested) what I know about the aphids I have studied all over the western U.S. and Canada (plus some other places) and do it my own words and on my own terms. I promise not to coin new names, sink other people’s species inappropriately, move species willy-nilly from genus to genus, etc. I will simply tell you what I know, what I have seen, what specimens I have, show you some pictures, suggest possible interesting research angles, and whatever else comes to mind that does not violate the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. I don’t care about publication credit, so feel free to follow up on any of my suggestions and pay those page charges for official publications that I am too lazy and cheap to pursue myself.

Unless I cite a publication or author in my discussions of species and genera, the work and information I write about on this site is not published elsewhere. I decided in 2014 to take this approach as I was walking through the forest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. I have so much material in my collection, and have seen so many aphids living their lives in the wild, that there is no realistic way I could publish it all in my lifetime, not to mention the fact that I don’t want to hassle with the details and scientific rigor such as borrowing all possible material from across the continent, digging through historical records, and heaven forbid, handle the messy and opaque rules of nomenclature that I am so rusty on.  This is all apart from the financial expense of page charges and the like for publications. Jeepers. So, why not just openly share everything I have and know about aphids, in case anyone cares, or maybe wants to take all the messy steps that I cannot or will not to finish the research and publish?