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Answers to exploration questions: biodiversity analyses and unknowns

If you are wondering where the suggested answers came from, you can review the videos and article in the biodiversity analyses and unknowns tutorial.
1.          Your friend tells you that it seems as if scientists go to a lot of trouble coming up with names for species and he wonders why it is important for scientists have a standardized way of naming and classifying species. What would you tell your friend?
Answer: A complete explanation would mention that having a standardized system of naming species is crucial because it allows scientists around the world to easily and reliably communicate about the organisms they are collecting and studying. The scientific name is a unique identifier. Just imagine if scientists from different countries attempted to communicate about species using only common names! Common names can be very different from one country to the next, or even from one region of a country to another in the same country.
2.          Congratulations! You’ve just discovered some interesting looking snails in a remote forest on the coast of California. You have the necessary permits, and as you collect a few specimens, what information should you record at the same time? Why is this information important?
Answer: A complete explanation would mention that the more information you collect about your specimens, the better. The most important information you would want to record would be the location, preferably with georeference coordinates for longitude and latitude. You would also want to record the date, time of day, and weather conditions. Where in the forest you found the snail (on the forest floor, on a rotting tree, on a bed of pine needles, etc.) is also important, and if the specimen was found by itself or in a group. You’re also going to want to note of your name and research institution, and if possible take a picture of the snails where you found them and also a photo of the habitat. You might also want to take a sample of the plant or soil they were on. Having all of this information, or metadata, about the specimen, will prove valuable as you or other scientists now or in the future want to study the specimen and learn more about it.

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