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For the Survival of Acarology
Archieves of discussions on the Acarology List

From: Zhi-Qiang Zhang  <>
To: Lincoln.smtp("")
Date:  8 March 2000 8:46pm
Subject:  for the survival of acarology

Dear Colleagues:

The number of professional acarologists is dwindling with the lost of
acarologist positions due to un-replaced retirements and deaths in
universities, institutes and museums around the world, threading the
survival of our science in some countries.

The government of Australia is undertaking a review of Australia's
Science Capability.  Our Australian colleague Dr David Walter made a
submission to them on acarology.  I feel that his appeal and case,
although made for Australian acarology, also applies to situations in
many other countires.  The arguments he put forward are shared by
many of us. Here I share with you  the opening paragraph of his case:

"Like many small disciplines, the study of mites and ticks (Acarology) is
disappearing from Australian academic institutions, museums, and
departments of primary industry as the result of deaths, retirements,
relocation overseas and restructuring. Australia appears to be on the
verge of losing its critical mass of professional acarologists. As a result,
Australian workers in quarantine, primary production, public health and
academic institutions will be entering the new millennium with little or no
support available for addressing newly emerging mite problems or for
providing acarological training (including modern diagnostic  techniques).
The immediate savings from eliminating disciplines such as acarology are
trivial, but the long term costs are likely to be high. The Commonwealth
Government must show foresight and recognise that a healthy and
successful society requires many specialised disciplines that are
worthwhile, not because each pays its own way, but because the entire
system needs them to function properly."

The full document  is at:

for those who are interested.

The situation in Australia is not an isolated one.  Earlier, there were
discussions in this network on the loss of acarologists in the USA,
particularly the non-replacement of Ed Baker and Bob Simley's positions
at Systematic Entomology Lab.

I invite discussions on this forum about this critical issue facing
acarology in this new century and millennium and welcome you to share
with us your good ideas on how we can reverse this trend.

Sincerely yours,

Zhi-Qiang Zhang
Acarology List-owner

Landcare Research
Auckland, New Zealand
Personal page:

From: Andreas Wohltmann <>
To: Zhi-Qiang Zhang Zhi-Qiang Zhang <ZhangZ@landcare.c...
Date:  9 March 2000 3:33am
Subject:  Re: for the survival of acarology

Dear Colleagues,

I agree with the description of the state of Acarology as outlined by Dave
Walter, and I agree with Zhi-Qiang Zhang that this situation is not
restricted to Australia, but comparable or even worse in Europe, USA and
probably all other countries of the world.  The risks resulting from the
loss of scientists on the one hand and the rather incomplete knowledge
about mites in nearly all fields of interest on  the other hand are not
hypothetical. E.g. concerning taxonomy there is already an increasing loss
of collections, of experience, and also of knowledge in Europe. The
prognosis for future seems bad, concerning the improvement of our knowledge
about Acari as well as with regard to the recruitment of  students of
I think that most Acarologists will agree with the arguments provided by
Dave Walter, and since the situation in other countries is comparable we
will soon get agreement among Acarologists about what would be needed (e.g.
more financial support).
I also think, that the arguments are rationale and have nothing to do with
selfish support of our favourite discipline.
And I am sure that it is necessary to confront the responsible people with
these arguments.

Moreover, I think that science politics do not always refer to rationale
argumentation but is severely influenced by short time financial benefits,
by terms which are just "en vogue", and last not least by the degree of
international reputation correlated with a particular scientific field.

 I fear it will be not enough to point on risks and to hope for a deep
understanding of  people who could give us the necessary support and help
(these people are usually non-Acarologists). First of all we should think
about ways to help ourselves, how to make Acarology more interesting to
other scientists, more accepted or welcomed in grant applications. We
should try to introduce Acari as suited example organisms into those fields
of biological research traditionally carried out with other organisms, and
I am convinced that Acari are top-suited for a number of (ecological,
evolutionary, physiological, developmental etc.) topics. We need more
co-operation with experts in other disciplines, and we have to convince
people that "mites" and "cutting-edge" is no contradiction per se.

I know, that it is much easier to formulate phrases (sorry for the
sometimes awkward English) than to bring them into practise. Any alternatives?

Best wishes

Andreas Wohltmann

Dr. Andreas Wohltmann
Institut für Zoologie
Freie Universität Berlin
Königin-Luise-Strasse 1-3
D-14195 Berlin

FAX: (+49) 30 838 3915

From:  "V.Prasad" <>
To: "Zhi-Qiang Zhang (Zhi-Qiang Zhang)" <ZhangZ@landca...
Date:  9 March 2000 12:34am
Subject:  Re: for the survival of acarology

Dear Dr. Zhang,

    I have been saying the samething and have been working for the same goal
for over 25 years with the help of our acarologist friends (please read my
article in IJA volume 26, no. 1 written on IJA's 25th anniversary in which I
have clearly admired your (and Eddi Ueckerman's of South Africa) effort to
focus this problem among Chinese speaking acarologists) but our efforts
alone are not enough for the development of national, regional or global

(1) Passing through high demand of computer related scientists -  We must
recognize this problem also (other than what is said in Dave Walter's
letter) which has lead to recruitment of only a few dedicated students to
enter in the field of acarology as most want to enter in high paying jobs
only.  Thus, universities/ institutions must have extra incentives/
fellowships to attract more students to study acarology.
(2) International Congress of Acarology or other regional (EURAC, African
Acarology Society, Latin or Chinese speaking acarologists Societies) or
national acarology organizations/societies must make extra efforts to
pointout the current crisis in acarology in each country and see that extra
positions in acarology research are created.
(3) Working with Chiefs of the Agricultural Research in each country , for
example, Director General of Agricultural Research, USDA and such alike
organizations - A committee of the World Body of Concerned Acarologists
(WOBOCO or anyother suitable name) consisting of 5-10 acarologists should be
formed who could work atleast by correspondence to Ministers or Director
General of Agriculture, USDA  or such alike organizations in different
countries.  I am sure that this will be beneficial than not doing it.
(4) Working with poleticians - It is not bad idea as you may think but time
has come that the above committee or national acarology societies could
invite the Agriculture Minister, Senators and Congressmen in the Societies
meeting to point out this problem.  I know that this has been well done in
India by Channabasavanna and associates which has lead to creation of new
positions in acarology research/ teaching and an excellent relationship
between acarology society, Directorate General of Agriculture Research and
the Minister of Agriculture in India.
(5) Filling of positions - We must work together to see that retiring
acarologists positions in each country are filled by new acarologists and if
not the WOBOCO should work toward this goal.
(6) We need leaders in acarology - We have acarologists in many countries
but lack the leaders/ ambassadors on national, regional and international
level who could work together FOR ACAROLOGY (see the cover page 4 of
International Journal of Acarology which I have been stating for many
(7) Formation of national and regional acarology societies - This would
certainly help a lot in the development of acarology.  Each country must
have its own acarology society and/or regional acarology society.
(8) Fellowships/ scholarships/ travel research grants -  Should be obtained
by acarologists in each country from national or international level.  Many
years ago, during Dr. Baker's time/work, USDA use to have research funding
in different underdeveloped countries (Pakistan, India etc: I think PL480)
to work with USDA acarologists/ scientists and excellent research on
mites/ticks was done during that time.  We should look again to see if US
still has some funding like that.
(9) Publication grant - No journal can survive over long period of time
without the publication grant because in real world free or cheap enterprise
does not work as everyone wants quality and rapidity.  In real world,
everything costs.  Today, sadly, almost 90% authors do not pay the
publication cost to the journal as authors have no publication grant.  This
is a suicide for a journal and many of these either would publish only when
possible, would publish annually,  change hands to different publishers or
cease publication in future.  Therefore, obtaining of funding for
publication of research papers must be the part of research grant system.
(10) Teachers of acarology and spouses of acarologists - We have not given
any attention to these in thousand years who have done so much for us.  A
teacher of mine who planted seed of acarology in me many years ago and my
wife who has always stood with me FOR ACAROLOGY even though she is not
acarologist in minds of acarologists are no less hero or acarologist.  We
must recognize, cherish and write about them.  They deseve to be recognized
in each country when they are alive.  We have kept them locked in closet too
long.  I admire about Glen Needham's obituary writing about George Wharton's
wife but I wish we had something different when she was alive.
(11) Our fallen and retired acarologists - Rather than writing obituary
only, we should recognize their contributions to acarology and keep helping
if they are still around whether publishing or not.  My writings in IJA
about VISIT TO.... and providing FELLOWSHIP named after such acarologists
over the years have the same objectives but more and more writers should
write about them than publishing research papers alone.
    It would be nice to have many more suggestions from different part of
the world and see that we all work together AS ACAROLOGIST and FOR
ACAROLOGY. I admire you for opening this forum and I am glad that some
awakening is coming about the GLOBAL PROBLEM OF ACAROLOGY which I have been
stating over the last 25 years through International Journal of Acarology
and in my meetings to acarologists in different countries.

Vikram Prasad

From:  "Pablo A. Martinez" <>
To: Zhi-Qiang Zhang Zhi-Qiang Zhang <ZhangZ@landcare.c...
Date:  10 March 2000 1:10am
Subject:  Re: for the survival of acarology

Dear Colleagues:
I hope to contribute to a description of situation in acarology, telling
about the situation in my country, Argentina, and in a lesser extent in
South America. Recently, an argentinian researcher said that in South
America there are scientist, but there are not science. Meaning that there
are not the social conditions to recognize in science a tool for
development. This leads to low budget for science, no scientific politic at
all, etc.
Acarology is not an exception to this situation. There is no organizations
in my country, and in many others in South America (except, I believe,
Brazil) that join acarologists. The Sociedad Latinoamericana de Acarologia,
founded in Ohio (1994) and consolidated in Mexico (1996) do not escape to
the problem, being neccesary a reactivation to make from this an organ to
join efforts in order to search for solutions.
So, while in Europe, USA, Australia, etc. an old tradition in acarology is
threatened for a declination, in our countries acarology is not yet a solid
discipline, but problems are urgent too.
I agree with considerations of Dr. Zhang, Wohltmann and Prasad, many
actions are neccesary: support to publications, a global organization of
acarologists, to promote interest  in other scientist, in students and in
politics. How to attain it?
Many ideas have been proposed by mentioned colleagues, and I hope that from
the discussion can merge others.
Example: a global association could  offer, directly to national
goverments, designs of action to combat (in a natural way) plagues, studies
about allergies, and so on. It's no imply to transform it in a private
Perhaps it is a deliriously proposal, but take it like a passage of a
brainstorm exercise.
Finally, the day-by-day action, like propose Dr. Wohltmann, is imperative,
putting mites in the mind of the people (students, acientists, friends, etc.)
(If you has arrive to this point i must congratulate you for suffer my
english writing.)

Bset wishes


* Pablo A. Martinez                           *
* Laboratorio de Artropodos                   *
* Departamento de Biologia                    *
* Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales    *
* Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata       *
* Funes 3350                                  *
* (7600) Mar del Plata                        *
* Argentina                                   *

Copyright 1996-2000 Zhi-Qiang Zhang, to whom comments should be sent.
Last updated 10 March 2000
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