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I have been thinking about evidence since I listened to an episode of Saving Species on BBC radio last week(?) and after commenting on some recent observations decided to open a discussion here.
The programme featured an article about the demise of the Slender Billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris now widely believed to be extinct. The interviewee, the journalist Horatio Clare, has been attempting to establish if the species is indeed still extant. During the interview Horatio cited a person who had reported seeing a SBC in 2010, this person provided field notes that are widely agreed to be excellent and most authorities apparently think that on balance the person did see a SBC. However due to the lack of photographic evidence the sighting is highly unlikely to be ratified.
The question is then, what level of evidence is necessary to confirm an observation (in the wider context, not specifically on iSpot)?
Obviously it depends on context to a degree; some species need dissection under a microscope for accurate determination, but for others are field notes sufficient? It was not that long ago field sketches were commonly used, indeed a friend of mine is still employed to sketch archaeological excavations.