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Re: Bird Science
From: "Dora Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: "Dora Smith" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Bird Science
Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 13:15:16 -0500
You misunderstood. I did sound as if I had a problem with ornithology the
first time I wrote, but not the second time around. I know that this
I was clear enough+ACE- I have clipped below the part of what I wrote
you want to re-read.
I don't think that +ACI-Ornithology+ACI- is a pseudoscience.
I think, though, that your irritation stems less from what I wrote than
the fact that there are ornithologists who are giving the field a bad name,
and my confusion, however quickly straightened out, is common. Over the
year I have been involved in bird lists, the subject of what an
ornithologist is comes up repeatedly. Of course it is a very broad
ranging field with a wide range of expertise as well as points of view, but
to the casual observer ornithology comes across as stuck in the mud and a
century out of date in both interests and methodology.
Perhaps part of the problem is that stuck in the mud people tend to call
themselves ornithologists while up to date scientists call themselves such
things as evolutionary biologists and geneticists, the stuck in the mud
people are posting to the +ACI-ornithology+ACI- list while the people with
scientific approach are writing to the dinosaur list, and the
+ACI-ornithological+ACI- societies are so conservative in orientation.
For instance, here are excerpts from the web site of David Mindell, one of
the foremost evolutionary biologists who are studying birds.
+ACI-Research in the Mindell lab concerns theory and practice of molecular
systematics and evolution of animals and viruses. Individual research
interests range from molecular phylogeny and evolution of birds, non-avian
reptiles, and retrovirus parasites of birds and mammals to large-scale
patterns and causes of molecular evolutionary change. +ACI-
+ACI-Dr. David P. Mindell
Department of Ecology +ACY- Evolutionary Biology and
Museum of Zoology
1109 Geddes Road
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079 USA
Office: (734) 647-2209+ADs- Lab (734) 763-0310
Fax: (734) 763-4080+ADs- E-mail: mindell+AEA-umich.edu
Current Research Interests Include:
systematics theory and practice
evolution and phylogeny within and among orders of birds based on molecular
phylogeography and conservation genetics of birds of prey
phylogeny and molecular evolution of retroviruses and their coevolution
structure of evolutionary theory and its applications
These projects involve molecular lab work in isolating, amplifying,
probing and sequencing mitochondrial, nuclear, and proviral DNAs and
computer-based comparative analyses in both the development and application
of evolutionary theory. +ACI-
Dr. Mindell is in fact an ornithologist - but do you see him associate the
word with himself anyplace? He says he practices evolutionary biology,
he would probably describe himself as a molecular geneticist. I+ACI-ve
other people who are studying birds say they do systemics or molecular
phylogeny. And alot of people who study birds say they are veterinarians,
or wildlife specialists.
From the trends I see on the Web, I suspect that even though of course
you're as much an ornithologist as people on the ornith-l list,
+ACI-ornithology+ACI- is headed for extinction or hobby status.
And herpetologists might as well stop calling themselves herpetologists.
Ornithology is hardly headed for extinction or "hobby status." As for what
the casual observer of ornithology thinks...if they're casual observers they
don't matter that much, yes?
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