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Taxonomic Catalog of Type specimens of the fish collections of Venezuela

TITLE OF THE PROJECT:
CATALOG OF TYPES, OF THE VENEZUELA FISH COLLECTIONS: BIOLOGICAL HERITAGE OF HUMANITY IN DANGER.

PARTICIPANTS:
Iván Mikolji, Oscar M. Lasso-Alcalá and curators or people responsible for collections.

BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION:
The Biological Collections, whether they are of animals (zoological) or plants (herbal), constitute a part of the Natural or Biological Heritage, as well as the Historical Heritage of each nation in the world. These can be housed in small private and public collections, or in large collections of museums or institutions.

Additionally, many of these collections contain specimens or samples used to describe many species; this is called the Material or TYPE collection, or Type Series. These last collections are part of the Biological Heritage of each nation and the Biological Heritage of Humanity, since they denote the history of humankind on the Planet and the physical or tangible proof of its work, in favor of the knowledge and preservation of the biodiversity of our world. Because of this, we, as other research and preservation groups, have the motto that says: “People cannot preserve or manage it (rational use) if they don’t know it.”

Likewise, Venezuela, as a megadiverse South American country, has at least 67 public and private biological collections formally registered with the National Office of Biological Diversity, an entity of the Venezuelan state originally attached to the Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. According to this institution and the Venezuelan legislation (Law of Biological Diversity), biological collections must be protected and preserved as they are a valuable heritage of the nation and a source of information for the management of biological diversity. However, the number of registered collections is much higher, since some of the collections with a single register, in turn, have multiple collections. An example of this is the La Salle Natural History Museum (Caracas), registered as a single collection, but houses 11 Biological Collections.

Currently, due to several problems suffered by the country for a little over 20 years, Venezuela is submerged in a deep political, economic and social crisis, which has led to a great Humanitarian crisis, unprecedented in Latin America. Due to this, the institutions responsible for preserving and managing this Biological Heritage do not have any type of resource to carry out this difficult task. Likewise, most of the people in charge of these collections have had to emigrate from the country, making it even more difficult to preserve this heritage, which has entered into a process of increasing and continuous deterioration or damage. This situation has worsened in the last three years due to theft, vandalism and looting of many of these institutions, which carries the imminent danger of destruction (mechanical or by fire) of these collections at any time.

Due to this emergency, it is important to create a visual and scientific record of the Biological Collections of Venezuela to attract attention as well as to seek National and International help to preserve this heritage. In the first phase, the most important material in these collections must be documented, which is the Specimen Collections or Type Material.

Finally, according to international legislation, contained in Chapter 16, Article 72, numeral 10, and recommendation 72F.4, of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN: http://www.iczn.org/iczn/index.jsp), in its fourth and last edition of the year 1999, (with amendments from 2000 to 2012), adopted by the International Union of Biological Sciences, which establishes that among the responsibilities that the institutions have on the publication of the Type material deposited in their collections, as well as the information inherent therein, catalogues should be prepared in the most up-to-date manner possible.

As the first step in this project, the Type Material deposited in the Main Fish Collections of Venezuela must be documented. These are listed below:
1) La Salle Natural History Museum (MHNLS), La Salle Foundation for Natural Sciences, Caracas, Capital District.
2) Biology Museum, Central University of Venezuela (MBUCV), Caracas, Capital District.
3) Museum of Natural Sciences of Guanare (MCNG), Experimental University of Los Llanos Ezequiel Zamora, Guanare, Portuguesa state.
4) Biology Museum of the University of Zulia (MBLUZ), Maracaibo, Zulia state.
5) Regional Fish Collection of the Lisandro Alvarado University (CPUCLA), Barquisimeto, Lara state.
6) Ichthyological Collection of Reference, La Salle Guayana Foundation (CIR-EDIHG), Hydrobiological Research Station, San Félix, Bolívar State.igaciones Hidrobiológicas, San Félix, Estado Bolívar.
7) Hermano Benigno Román Oceanological Museum (MOBR), Margarita Marine Research Station, La Salle Foundation for Natural Sciences, Punta de Piedras, Margarita Island, Nueva Esparta state.
8) Margarita Marino Museum (MMM), Museo del Mar Foundation, Boca de Río, Margarita Island, Nueva Esparta state.
9) Reference collection of the ichthyofauna of the Amazonas State (MAC-PAY), National Institute of Agricultural Research, Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state.

OBJECTIVE:

Visual and scientific documentation of the Type material contained in the fish collections of Venezuela.

In the first stage, the work carried out in the fish collections of the La Salle Foundation for Natural Sciences (MHNLS, MOBR and CIR-EDIHG) must be documented, disseminated and published.

ACTIVITIES AND NEEDS:

The visual documentation will be done through professional photography and scientific documentation, and the preparation and publication of different Type Catalogues of each Collection. For this, work visits will be made to each of the collections.

Funds will be required to carry out the fieldwork (visits to collections) and the laboratory. For the latter, the professional fees of the research work of each case/species will be required, for the proponents of this project and the different Curators or managers of the collections.

Likewise, funds will be required to pay for the publication in National and International scientific journals, as well as the dissemination in national and international scientific events and a website. Also, sufficient funds will be required for the creation and maintenance of the website.

Achievements:

  1. Invitation to participate accepted by the La Salle Foundation for Natural Sciences: La Salle Natural History Museum (MHNLS), Caracas, Hermano Benigno Román Oceanographic Museum (MOBR), Punta de Piedras, Margarita Island, Guayana Hydrobiological Research Station (CIR -EDIHG), San Félix.
  2. Invitation to participate accepted by the Biology Museum of the Central University of Venezuela (MBUCV), Caracas.