“Collecting plant and animal specimens is essential for scientific studies and conservation and does not, as some critics of the practice have suggested, play a significant role in species extinctions.”

Those are the conclusions of more than 100 biologists and biodiversity researchers who signed a letter to the journal Science scheduled for online publication May 22.

The letter is a response to an April 18 Perspectives article in Science arguing that alternative methods of documentation — such as high-resolution photography, audio recordings and nonlethal tissue sampling for DNA analysis — make the field collection of animal and plant specimens unnecessary.

That’s just not the case, according to the authors of the response letter, many of whom work in natural history museums that house the preserved remains of animals and plants. The authors are from more than 60 research institutions on six continents and include six scientists from the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology.

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Letter to the journal Science below:

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