Are we doomed to repeat history? A model of the past using tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) and conservation biology to anticipate the future
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- Pearson, D.L. & Cassola, F. J Insect Conserv (2007) 11: 47. doi:10.1007/s10841-006-9018-9
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Studies of conservation biology involving tiger beetles have become increasingly common in the last 15 years. Governments and NGOs in several countries have considered tiger beetles in making policy decisions of national conservation efforts and have found tiger beetles useful organisms for arguing broad conservation issues. We trace the evolution of the relationship between tiger beetle studies and conservation biology and propose that this history may in itself provide a model for anticipating developments and improvements in the ability of conservation biology to find effective goals, gather appropriate data, and better communicate generalizations to non-scientific decision makers, the public, and other scientists. According to the General Continuum of Scientific Perspectives on Nature model, earliest biological studies begin with natural history and concentrate on observations in the field and specimen collecting, followed by observing and measuring in the field, manipulations in the field, observations and manipulations in the laboratory, and finally enter theoretical science including systems analysis and mathematical models. Using a balance of historical and analytical approaches, we tested the model using scientific studies of tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) and the field of conservation biology. Conservation biology and tiger beetle studies follow the historical model, but the results for conservation biology also suggest a more complex model of simultaneous parallel developments. We use these results to anticipate ways to better meet goals in conservation biology, such as actively involving amateurs, avoiding exclusion of the public, and improving language and style in scientific communication.