Boffins mistake fly for bee in book that gets insect names wrong 79% of the time
Boffins have written a book and got insect names wrong 79% of the time.
Experts have blasted the 87-page Russian volume for only naming four out of 19 bugs correctly.
The book, penned by six botanists, wrongly labelled a fly as a bee.
Insect ecology Professor Mikhail Kozlov wrote a scientific paper correcting the “unqualified scientists’” claims.
The academic, of the University of Turku, Finland, said the book, which was funded by the Russian government, was about 19 insects said to damage wood Rosaceae plants in the Murmansk oblast of the country.
He said: “The revision of insect identifications published by Rak et al yielded an astonishing conclusion: 15 of the 19 insect species illustrated in the cited book were incorrectly identified.
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“The most striking examples are a fly identified as a leafcutter bee, and a sawfly identified as a psyllid.
“In total, about half of the insects reported by Rak et al as pests of woody Rosaceae either do not feed on these plants or damage them only occasionally.
“It seems that the authors of the cited book did not check their identifications – based on outdated or low quality publications – against multiple pictures available on the web and or against the known distribution ranges of the species in question, although this action would have immediately revealed many of these errors.
“Neither I nor my colleagues with whom I have discussed the errors outlined above can understand why our fellow botanists decided to identify insects themselves.”
He added: “The publication of the book by Rak et al, which has the sign of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research on its cover, implies that the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences needs to improve its system of quality control when accepting manuscripts for publication.
“Obtaining a correct identification of insects illustrated by Rak et al would only have required sending these insects, or their photographs, to relevant experts, whose names and addresses can be easily found by a web search and/or on the web site of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.
“This simple action would have saved the reputations of the authors and of the Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden and Institute with which they are affiliated.”
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