Why Care About Natural History Collections?

Free Public Talk at UC Riverside, hosted by Center for Integrative Biological Collections, will focus on natural history collections in the 21st century

Photo shows Lynn Kimsey.

Lynn Kimsey is is a professor of entomology and the director of the R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Natural history collections are a library of biological specimens and their associated data that are used to better understand the world. They provide basic infrastructure to scientists for research in numerous fields, including global biodiversity, evolution, conservation biology, climate change, invasive species, and emerging diseases.

Lynn Kimsey, a professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, will give a free lecture at the University of California, Riverside on Monday, June 2, that will discuss why the public ought to pay attention to natural history collections.

The talk will begin at 4:10 p.m. in the auditorium of the Genomics Building.  It is titled “Natural History Collections in the 21st Century … Or … Society and Dead Things: Why We Should Care!”

“The talk reflects my interest in the importance of museum biological collections, which are often viewed as Victorian artifacts of little modern significance,” Kimsey said. “In reality, biological collections are genetic libraries and house information about habitat and climate change, biodiversity and so much more. This is particularly significant with invertebrates, such as insects, which make up the bulk of biodiversity yet are poorly known at best.”

Kimsey’s research interests include the biology and evolution of insects, the mating behavior of wasps and bees, and the biogeography of insects—such as aculeate (stinging) wasps.  She has described more than 300 new species of insects, and is an expert on the biodiversity of California insects, urban and suburban pests, and forensically important insects.  She is a professor of entomology and the director of the R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, which includes holdings of total more than seven million specimens of terrestrial and fresh water arthropods, making it the seventh largest insect collection in North America.

Kimsey’s talk is the first event hosted by the new Center for Integrative Biological Collections (CIBC) at UC Riverside.  Besides advancing research and teaching in biodiversity, the CIBC provides support for the management of natural resources by fostering an interdepartmental alliance among UCR’s world-class natural history collections—approaching 4 million specimens.

The CIBC’s collections include: the Nematode Collection comprising ~370,000 mounted specimens and thousands of original types; the Entomology Research Museum containing ~3 million curated specimens; the Earth Sciences Collections that curates several worldwide collections including fossils (~100,000 specimens) of invertebrates, vertebrates and plants as well as several thousand minerals and rocks; the Herbarium housing more than 223,000 specimens of vascular plants and lichens; the Botanic Gardens that includes 40 hilly acres and more than 3500 plants with emphasis on native plants from California, Mexico, and other Mediterranean and desert climates; and the Citrus Variety Collection, now one of the most extensive living collections of citrus diversity globally, encompassing approximately 4500 trees representing more than 1,000 accessions of citrus and citrus relatives.

Parking on campus costs about $6 per day.  Short-term parking is available in some parking lots at $2 per hour for a maximum of two hours; more information can be obtained from the attendant at this kiosk.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
E-mail: iqbal@ucr.edu
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

John Hash, Center for Integrative Biological Collections
E-mail: jhash001@ucr.edu

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