Sorry for my lack of clarity, I have clouded distinctions between the OP topic (Cochise-clade Hypsiglena) and broader issues that I've introduced into this thread. (I'm also not interested in a mere pissing match - booooring.) But I won't back down from the challenge I threw out - if NAFHA wants to acquire the stature to improve and influence management of herps, we need to improve our utility and grow our profile. One way to do that is to become even more "sciencey". As I said previously, pictures are nice, as they may constitute proof of occurrence (if
we are trusted enough to be believed). Pictures can also be useful (if
we take adequate-quality pictures of the right parts...) in investigations wholly, or partly, utilizing morphology or phenotype, particularly those of a systematic nature like this night snake question.
However, photos alone are of no use in molecular work. Contemporary best practices in systematics integrate morphology and molecular biology. So - people working in systematics (and many other disciplines...) need bodies or pieces of them - even throw-away piece like shed hair or molted feathers can be good enough. Sometimes even turds have enough residual DNA (from sloughed intestinal cells) to identify the turd-maker down to species or even individual. Citizen science (what NAFHA is all about
, right?) can help with gathering these items, just as it can help by gathering photos and coordinates.
How to get involved? You can either start with talking, and then begin collecting bodies and parts, or you can do it the other way around. It's a matter of personal choice and temperament. If you want to start with talking, you can go to likely principal investigators like Dan, you can go to museum curators at your herp repository museums (e.g., UAZ), or you can go to agency folks who manage or are interested in herps (e.g., Tom Jones at AzGFD, Larry Jones at USFS, etc). They can all give suggestions for how to get involved in a useful way.
If you want to start with gathering bodies and parts (assuming you know how to do so legally - if not I'd start with talking!), here's a blurb from the UAZ museum's website on the topic:
Specimen Acquisitions and Donations
The University of Arizona Herpetology Collection grows and becomes a more useful research resource with the acquisition of specimens. These specimens are typically acquired through collecting efforts of the collection staff or students and researchers associated with the collection. Specimens are also gained through exchanges from other institutions, as well as gifts and donations. New acquisitions are welcome, given that they are legally possessed, and have complete and reliable collection information. Complete collection information includes at a minimum:
1) Collector(s) name (the collectors catalog number should be included if available)..
2) Date of collection (should be written out as 12 May 2002 or May 12, 2002 if possible. Use of slashes such as 5/12/2002, dashes as in 5-12-2002, or Roman numerals such as 12 V 2002 are to be avoided. Also the year should be written in full such as 1999 or 2002 rather than 99 or 02.
3) Collection locality which should include Country (if outside of the United States), State and County (if applicable), as well as a specific locality. This more precise locality may include mileages from landmarks, and / or geographic coordinates such as Range and Township, Latitude and Longitude, or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM). The recent accessibility of relatively inexpensive Geographic Positioning System (GPS) receivers, has made acquiring these precise localities much quicker, easier, and with increased accuracy. Whenever possible, the elevation should be included with the locality.
Other useful information often included with specimens are time of collection, weather conditions, description of vegetation, description of physical area, major drainage, mountain range, valley name, collected live or dead, live on road (LOR), dead on road (DOR), and date of preservation. Field notes and collecting permits (originals or copies), associated with the donated specimens are also appreciated.
The only thing I'd add to that blurb is, check your map datum (WGS 84, NAD 83 or 27, etc) on your receiver, and include that with the coordinates and specimens (or photos) you submit.
One final point - "pickles" (preserved animals) have a finite shelf life. Most pickles are now getting pretty old - the heyday of sacrificial collection was a long time ago - upwards of 40 years ago. Even mundane stuff in good condition can make a very nice and very appreciated pickle. For example I'm even picking up all the DOR GB gophers I find - my local museum curator requested this. (I just keep a box of ziplocs and a pencil in the car, for cleanly bagging DORs and tossing in a note with requisite salvage details.) Another important point (last one for real
this time, ha ha) - whole-body pickles are useful for all sorts of things - diet studies, reproductive studies, anatomical studies, distributional studies. Basically, let the curator decide what to do (pickle or toss) with all the stuff you bring him. Just bring it.
Hope this clarifies previous discussion, and stimulates some action. Road-cruising season is upon us. Let's make ourselves even more useful to the herps we all love