Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 15 of 43

14 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | December 2018 Vintage Birds , Modern Science expert collector who had recently com- pleted a multi-year survey of the fauna of Baja California. The endeavor's successes were almost immediately apparent. "From a camp among the pines at an altitude of 5200 ft., near the top of one of the high- est mountains in southern Sinaloa," Moore trumpeted in a scientific article in 1935, "Mr. Chester C. Lamb, one of the most reliable and indefatigable of collectors, secured a Jay which is remarkably differ- ent from any of its congeners yet known to science." He was announcing the discov- ery of an undescribed species, the Tufted Jay, which had somehow evaded Western knowledge through expeditions that had dissected Mexico for centuries prior. In 1951, Moore moved his growing collection to Occidental College, where it went on to become the Moore Laboratory of Zoology, housing the world's largest collection of Mexican bird specimens. Its legacy continues to reveal itself through scientific research—now focusing on DNA—and public outreach, as well as conservation efforts that sometimes di - rectly benefit the very species that make up the collection. In Moore's time, the only serious pursuit for a museum ornithologist was taxonomy and systematics, or the naming of species and placing of them into groups of close relatedness. Still, he was ahead of his time. A great patron of conservation, Moore was one of the first members of a group formed to protect the Galápagos Islands, anticipat- ing the field of conservation biology by de- cades. Since then, museum pursuits have expanded to include ecology, conserva- tion, and behavior. Moore and Lamb were pioneers, but their tools were limited. In their day, sci - entists confined their attention to the out - ward appearance, or phenotype, of birds. Lamb never could have imagined that we would harvest DNA from his specimens in those droplets transfered from tube to tube. DNA had been discovered by then, but it was not known to be the carrier of the genetic code until later. Not until the 1980s did scientists begin to extract the first DNA from preserved museum speci- mens. Soon after, they were placing an ex- tinct avian group, the giant flightless moas n Chester Lamb (second from right) on a collecting expedition in Baja California, Mexico, in the 1920s. Photo © Courtesy of the Lamb Family n Moore Laboratory of Zoology Director John McCormack and Occidental College undergraduate Devon DeRaad review Chester Lamb's field notes. Photo © Day's Edge Productions

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