On scientific requirements for presentation of "new records": the case of Dendrobium ruckeri (Orchidaceae)
How detailed and explicit should information presented in a “new record” account be to make the new record officially acceptable, and what kind of documentation is required? In recent years, this question has come to prominence, for example, due to the increasing rate with which new national taxon records are appearing in popular orchid field guides. The scientifically deficient publication of such “new records” precludes the alleged occurrences in Thailand from becoming formally accepted in the scientific literature – and the species in question from being considered for conservation in Thailand. To demonstrate the problem in detail, we present the case of Dendrobium ruckeri. First, we outline the historical introduction and occurrence of this species in the Thai botanical literature, and then provide a full taxonomic account, in effect demonstrating what we think a proper “new record” account should include. To avoid continued confusion over scientifically deficient new records, we urge non-professional botanists to properly document any new national record, supported by voucher specimens, and to publish their find in collaboration with appropriate professional botanists before including the newly discovered taxon in a field guide, or any other popular publication.
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