Code of conduct

Lepsoc affirms that collecting Lepidoptera is one of many legitimate activities enabling professional and amateur lepidopterists to further the scientifically sound and progressive study of Lepidoptera and education about Lepidoptera as well as encouraging interaction between professional and amateur lepidopterists.

This Lepsoc statement is supported by the following code of conduct and collecting guidelines that set out the manner in which collecting should be conducted. Lepsoc members are encouraged to adopt these guidelines and to use the guidelines for the instruction of others.

Code of Conduct for Collecting Lepidoptera
A. Preamble
Our responsibility to assess and preserve natural resources, to increase knowledge and to maintain biological diversity in perpetuity requires lepidopterists to examine the practice of collecting Lepidoptera in order to govern their own activities.

To this end, Lepsoc adheres to the following guidelines:
1. Lepidoptera is one of the largest orders of insects and an important component of biological diversity.
2. Lepidoptera are conspicuous and scientifically well known and therefore they are frequently used as indicator groups for conservation programmes.
3. The collection of Lepidoptera:
a) Is a means to introduce children and adults to be aware of and study their natural environment;
b) Has an essential role in building up scientific information, both for its own sake as a basis from which to identify and develop rational means for protecting the environment and its resources.
c) Is an educational activity that generally can be pursued in a manner not detrimental to the resource involved.

B. Guidelines
Purposes of Collecting (consistent with the above statements):
1. To create a reference collection for study and appreciation;
2. To document regional diversity, frequency, and variability of species, and provide voucher material for published records;
3. To document faunal representation in environments undergoing alteration or threatened by humans or natural forces;
4. To participate in the development of regional checklists and institutional reference collections;
5. To complement planned research initiatives and endeavours;
6. To help disseminate educational information;
7. To augment understanding of taxonomic and ecological relationships.

C. Collection Methods:
1. Collecting adults or immature stages should be limited to sampling, not depleting, the population concerned. Numbers collected should be consistent with the purposes stated in section B (1-7);
2. Where the extent and/or the vulnerability of a population is unknown, caution and restraint should be exercised.

D. Data Sharing:
1. All data should be recorded, and the data should be made available to appropriate interested parties.

E. Live Material:
1. Breeding to understand, document and photograph life histories and to obtain series of immature stages and adults is to be encouraged, provided that collection of the breeding stock is in keeping with these guidelines;
2. Excess bred specimens should be released only in the region where they originated, and in suitable habitat.

F. Environmental:
1. Protection of the supporting habitat must be recognised as the single most critical element of species protection;
2. Collecting should be performed in a manner that minimises trampling or other damage to the habitat or specific foodplants;
3. Property rights and sensibilities of others must be respected;
4. Collectors must comply with regulations relating to publicly controlled areas, to individual species and to habitats.

G. Responsibility for Collected Material:
1. All material should be preserved with all known data attached;
2. All material should be protected from physical damage and deterioration by light, mould, and museum beetles/pests;
3. Collections should be made available for examination by qualified researchers;
4. Collections or specimens, and their associated written and photographic records, should be willed or offered to the care of an appropriate scientific institution, if the collector lacks space or loses interest, or in anticipation of death;
5. Type specimens, especially holotypes, should be deposited in appropriate scientific institutions.

H. Related Activities of collectors:
1. Collecting should include permanently recorded field notes regarding habitat, conditions, and other pertinent information;
2. Records of behaviour and biological interaction observations in the field are a high priority;
3. Photographic records, with full data, are encouraged;
4. Education of the public regarding collecting and conservation, as reciprocally beneficial activities, should be undertaken whenever possible;
5. Data should always be recorded with the specimens, and should include location (with map grid reference/GPS reading), collector, habitat, larval host plant information, and parentage of immatures, if known.

I. Traffic in Lepidoptera specimens:
1. Collection of specimens for exchange or sale should be performed in accordance with these guidelines;
2. Breeding of specimens for exchange or sale should be from stock obtained in a manner consistent with these guidelines and so documented;
3. Lepsoc does not condone the mass collecting of Lepidoptera for commercial purposes or the collecting of specimens for the creation of saleable artefacts.

J. Legal Considerations:
1. Collectors should comply with local, regional, provincial, national and international laws and regulations that govern collecting and possession, commerce and exchange, import and export and protection of species. They should also comply with additional local, regional, provincial, national and international laws and regulations governing live material.

Acknowledgement: This Code of Conduct and collecting guidelines document has been prepared using the Code of Conduct of The Lepidpoterists’ Society of North America as a base and guide. Lepsoc Africa acknowledges this with thanks.

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