6 Collecting and Preserving Fishes: a Historical Perspective

in Naturalists in the Field
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Abstract

A variety of techniques have been used in collecting fishes for scientific purposes; most of these proved relatively successful, and despite the difficulties of travel and disease faced by early collectors, fishes formed a main component of many early collections. They were incorporated into well-known institutions throughout Europe and North America, and remain a major resource for today’s taxonomists. However, it was the limited preservation and labelling techniques available to early collectors that had such a major impact on the survival of the collections made in the field by naturalists. The problems faced by several well-known fish collectors, including Peter Forsskål, Joseph Banks, George Vachell, Francis Day and George Johnston – and the fate of the collections they made – are described.


Naturalists in the Field

Collecting, Recording and Preserving the Natural World from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century

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