Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GRBio Version 2.0 Workshop

Yesterday was the first session of a two-day workshop on the Global Registry of Biorepositories (GRBio). This registry is a comprehensive online database which contains information about biological collections and the institutions which hold them. Such institutions include natural history museums, herbaria, gene banks, culture collections, and more.

Our workshop will address issues with the use and structure of GRBio and will inform future updates for this website. Stay tuned for workshop discussions and finds!

Friday, April 24, 2015

In the News: Life and Times of a Museum Specimen

Fig.1. Cast of Uintatherium anceps (Leidy, 1872) - syn. Dinoceras mirabile (Marsh 1872) skull, neck vertebrae at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris. This animal was part of the infamous Bone Wars in the late 19th century (Credit: Jebulon, 2010)

Specimens, collections, and the museums that house them have historical and cultural connections which stretch beyond their scientific value. Learn more about art from specimens, making a career out of ice cores, Albert Einstein’s brain, and more:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seeds for the End of the World

Fig.1. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault sits in the island Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole (Credit: Mari Tefre, Global Crop Diversity Trust, via Flickr)

The lonely island of Spitsbergen in northern Norway is an unlikely home for agriculture’s last resort. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nestled 130 meters into the permafrost, holds the seeds of tens of thousands of varieties of essential food crops, such as beans, wheat, and rice. While the Global Seed Vault operates mainly as a safety net for other seed banks around the world, such repositories are centers of research to protect biodiversity and address world hunger.

Friday, April 17, 2015

In the News: A Changing Tide

Fig.1. This humpback in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is part of a long line of an unusual group of animals recently studied at the University of Otago (Credit: Whit Welles, 2007)

This week in collections science, the ocean and its inhabitants take center stage. Learn about ancient ocean ecosystems, marine animal evolution, transmissible clam cancer, and more in #FollowFriday.

Monitoring environmental change, one raptor at a time

Fig.1. The peregrine falcon’s decline in population happened after the contaminant DDT impeded the species’ ability to reproduce. (Credit: Matt, via Flickr, 2009)

Though Paola Movalli has been working in raptor research for nearly 20 years, it was in 2006, while at workshop in Europe for her EU Marie Curie fellowship, that she and others began developing the idea of EURAPMON (Research and Monitoring for and with Raptors in Europe).

Friday, April 10, 2015

In the News: Return of the Thunder Lizard

Fig.1. The Brontosaurus can finally reclaim its place as a real species (Credit:Davide Bonadonna/Creative Commons)

This week in science brought us a new dinosaur, “extreme” museum exhibits, and a seed bank which might one day save the world. Read this #FollowFriday to learn more about the weird and unknown side of collections:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"From [DNA] to Plate, Make Food Safe"

Fig.1. Scanning electron microscope image of Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, a top cause of bacterial food-related gastrointestinal illness in the United States (Credit: De Wood, Pooley, USDA, 2008).

Every year, foodborne illnesses kill nearly 2 million people around the world. These illnesses are caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances and present a very real danger to food security and health care. Food safety is the topic of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day, today on April 7, with the slogan "From farm to plate, make food safe." In an effort to promote food safety, the WHO released guidelines to prevent food contamination that can create a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition.

Friday, April 3, 2015

In the News: Bells and Bones

Fig.1. The Campanile (Sather Tower) at the University of California, Berkeley isn't just a home for bells, but for fossilized bones as well (Credit: Tristan Harward, 2006)

This week in #FollowFriday, we learned that some fossils are kept in clock towers, the process behind zoo acquisitions, and that national parks were not originally meant for scientific study. Read these stories and more to go behind-the-scenes with collections and repositories:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Saving the Avocado Tree, One Beetle at a Time

Fig.1. The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) is currently wreaking havoc among avocado crops in Florida. (Credit: USDA, 2012)

Little do guacamole lovers know that two different types of ambrosia beetles -- Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea sp. -- and the fungi they carry are terrorizing avocado groves in Florida and California, respectively, where more than 99% of the U.S.’s avocado crop is grown. But fear not, the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Crop Bioprotection Research Unit is on the case.