Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Beetle pictures from Southeast Asia

While researching for an upcoming talk, I found the following webpage:

It's pretty cool. It's got very good pictures of over 2000 specimens from 71 different families of weevils. It's also got a very cool and useful interactive locality map which allows you to quickly find specimens from areas of interest. It's based on the Drupal website system, which I personally find rather clunky, but it is free, open source and reasonably easy to develop in.

This site is also another example of the importance of taxonomy, and how much needs to be done in biodiversity-rich regions like Southeast Asia. Comparatively few of the beetles featured have been identified to species level, no doubt due to a combination of there being no relevant specialists and there being a large amount of work to describing new species and revising previous species hypotheses.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

ACIAR publications

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, better known as ACIAR publish a range of books dealing with crop protection, animal husbandry and other aspects of agriculture. They have a strong Southeast Asia and Pacific focus. Even better, many of their books are available for free downloading from their website.

Some of the selection includes:
TaroPest: An illustrated guide to pests and diseases of Taro in the South Pacific
A diagnostic field guide for one of the most iconic and staple foods of the Islands

Gardens of Oceania
A summary of gardening practises in the Pacific (Vanuatu in particular) plus descriptions of the plant species grown and notes on their uses.

Guidelines for Survelliance of Plant Pests in Asia and the Pacific
A good overview of the steps to developing monitoring and detection surveys. Unfortunately, the sections on analysing and reporting are rather scant. This is a shame because in my experience, this is where the professionalism of South Pacific science tends to tail off. Collecting data is great, but to go the whole distance, it needs to be analysed and published.

There is also an interesting quirk in the typesetting of the book in that the string "fi" does not show up. A bit annoying when dealing with the "Paci c" region and telling people about "con dence" intervals.

These criticisms aside, it's great that these very informative and helpful publications are available freely online. May the good times continue!