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The Natural History Museum is an international leader in the study of the natural world. Our science describes the diversity of nature, promotes an understanding of its past, and supports the anticipation and management of the impact of human activity on the environment.
The Museum's repository provides free access to publications produced by more than 300 scientists working here. Researchers at the Museum study a diverse range of issues, including threats to Earth's biodiversity, the maintenance of delicate ecosystems, environmental pollution and disease. The accessible repository showcases this broad research output.
The repository was launched in 2016 with an initially modest number of journal publications in its database. It now includes book chapters and blogs from Museum scientists.
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Diversification dynamics in freshwater bivalves (Unionidae) from the East African Rift(SIAL, 2018-07-29)Invertebrates are exceptionally diverse, but declining because of anthropogenic changes to their habitat, as exemplified by freshwater bivalves in Europe and North America. Much less information is available for African freshwater bivalves, especially for Unionidae, which comprise 9 genera and ~40 nominal species, many of which are endemic to African ancient lakes. The phylogenetic position of most of these genera and species remains uncertain, and their conservation status unassessed. Here, we present preliminary results of phylogenetic studies on the Unionidae of the East African Rift. We integrate a phylogenetic backbone based on four gene fragments with (1) sampling information to examine geographic patterns of diversity and with (2) geometric morphometrics of shell shape to examine the relation between morphological disparity and molecular diversity. African Unionidae apart from ‘Cafferia’ form a monophyletic clade, and the basal splits in this clade occur between the reciprocally monophyletic genera Pseudospatha and Grandidieria, both of which are currently endemic to Lake Tanganyika. Mweruella, Nyassunio and Prisodontopsis are also monophyletic in the preliminary analyses as is Nitia, although this latter taxon is nested within Coelatura, which highlights the need of systematic revisions. Biogeographic analyses indicate a statistically significant North-to-South colonization of the East African Rift by Coelatura sensu lato. Beyond deep phylogenetic splits among individual clades, limited molecular differentiation is observed within most clades, calling for population genetic studies. Ongoing morphometric analyses suggest strong morphological differentiation among several clades, but substantial disparity in shell shape is observed within many clades, which needs further examination.
Mastodon and on and on…a moving story(NatSCA, 2018-02-01)This is the latest chapter in the history of the mastodon (Mammut americanum (Kerr, 1792)) specimen on display at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London (UK), and continues from the story told by Lindsay (1991). The specimen was selected to be one of the new exhibits for the Wonder Bays of the refurbished Hintze Hall, at the heart of the Waterhouse building. Residing, until recently, on open display in a different exhibition space, the mastodon required stabilisation and careful dismantling before transportation and reassembly in its new site.
A chronological framework for the British Quaternary based on Bithynia opercula(Nature Research, 2011-08-25)Marine and ice-core records show that the Earth has experienced a succession of glacials and interglacials during the Quaternary (last ∼2.6 million years), although it is often difficult to correlate fragmentary terrestrial records with specific cycles. Aminostratigraphy is a method potentially able to link terrestrial sequences to the marine isotope stages (MIS) of the deep-sea record1,2. We have used new methods of extraction and analysis of amino acids, preserved within the calcitic opercula of the freshwater gastropod Bithynia, to provide the most comprehensive data set for the British Pleistocene based on a single dating technique. A total of 470 opercula from 74 sites spanning the entire Quaternary are ranked in order of relative age based on the extent of protein degradation, using aspartic acid/asparagine (Asx), glutamic acid/glutamine (Glx), serine (Ser), alanine (Ala) and valine (Val). This new aminostratigraphy is consistent with the stratigraphical relationships of stratotypes, sites with independent geochronology, biostratigraphy and terrace stratigraphy3,4,5,6. The method corroborates the existence of four interglacial stages between the Anglian (MIS 12) and the Holocene in the terrestrial succession. It establishes human occupation of Britain in most interglacial stages after MIS 15, but supports the notion of human absence during the Last Interglacial (MIS 5e)7. Suspicions that the treeless ‘optimum of the Upton Warren interstadial’ at Isleworth pre-dates MIS 3 are confirmed. This new aminostratigraphy provides a robust framework against which climatic, biostratigraphical and archaeological models can be tested.
A new species of the genus Palpostilpnus Aubert (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae, Cryptinae) from the Oriental part of China(Pensoft, 2011-06-17)Palpostilpnus brevis Sheng & Broad, sp.n., belonging to the tribe Phygadeuontini of the subfamily Cryptinae (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae), collected from Jiangxi Province, China, is described. A key to the described species of the genus Palpostilpnus Aubert, 1961, is provided.