Mr. Perkins then turns to the darker side of the picture for the naturalist's point of view and forecasts what will be the result of all these importations on the endemic fauna. He says sooner or later the greater part of this most interesting native fauna is in all probability doomed to extinction.
Investigations such as those here advocated should be undertaken by a competent naturalist. He should not only be a good collector, but a keen observer, in fact, a naturalist in the true sense of the term; for unless the work is well done it had almost be better left undone. There are many examples of collecting being so imperfectly done as to lead to very erroneous conclusions. It takes time for a naturalist to become acquainted with the local types. The endemics do not show themselves, as usually the conditions of life are such that insects, for example, live retired lives and are not seen, while those that manifest themselves are often foreigners.
It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to point out that the biological investigation of islands is not a matter of interest to the systematist only, but it is of great importance in connection with the problems of geographical distribution of animals and plants, some of which open up fascinating vistas of the extension of continents in former ages and of their partial submergence, while others relate to the when and how of the peopling of remote islands. Then there are to be considered the bearing of specific and individual varieties on the intricate questions of the origin of species and of evolution in general, and the adaptation of peculiar forms to their particular localities as well as those wonderful inter-relations between plants and plants, plants and animals, animals and animals, and between all and their environment. In a word, all those problems which are to be classed under the term ethology require painstaking and immediate study; probably no branch of the study of life is of such pressing importance as this, for everywhere 'the old order changeth' and it is that 'old order' which we have to discover.
More than twenty years ago the late Professor H. N. Moseley raised a note of warning and the concluding sentences of his 'Notes by a Naturalist on H. M. S. Challenger' are as follows:
- Science, loc. cit., p. 396.
- 'Natural History, Œcology or Ethology,' W. M. Wheeler, Science, N. S., Vol. XV., June 20, 1902, p. 971.