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Life is looking up for this tiny male mayfly!

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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles Krebs wrote:
There's no doubt this is a bit of an uncomfortable issue that arises when doing this type of picture. ...Think of the the difference between the kid who like to fry insects with a magnifying glass "just for fun", and the budding young naturalist that collects specimens and and carefully studies, catalogues, and annotates his collection. In both cases insects die, but I certainly see a difference.

Charlie, your words are as eloquent and graceful as your pictures!

I'm intrigued by how odd it feels to be discussing this issue. On the lepidopterists' list that I frequent, the topic is simply forbidden. It's treated as a religious debate. The policy was firmly in place by the time I got there, but I suspect it's pretty wise.

But since the topic is still OK here, I'll point out (once again) that the world is a complicated place.

If you Google on "anesthetize Drosophila", and read through the hits, you'll fairly quickly find one that says "CO2 is the most commonly used anesthetic for Drosophila. This form of anesthesia was shown to cause cardiac arrest within a few seconds in Drosophila (n=10), with resumption of the heart beat 20 to 30 seconds after cessation of gas exposure." You'll also find another page that says CO2 has long term effects on behavior and should be avoided for behavioral studies, and another pointing out that different species and even strains within a species vary in their tolerance.

The bottom line is that any time you do anything that affects an organism's behavior, you have to accept the responsibility for making that choice, even though you really can't know all the implications.

Personally, I'm happy if people make thoughtful decisions on a case-by-case basis. By my own standards, killing a few milligrams of insects to make a beautiful and thought-provoking picture is much less troubling than the chicken salad that I had for lunch, or the probably thousands of insects that got killed or displaced the last time I mowed the lawn.

Confusing, eh?

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