Welcome to The Natural History Museum repository
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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Historic samples reveal loss of wild genotype through domestic chicken introgression during the Anthropocene<Human activities have precipitated a rise in the levels of introgressive gene flow among animals. The investigation of conspecific populations at different time points may shed light on the magnitude of human-mediated introgression. We used the red junglefowl Gallus gallus, the wild ancestral form of the chicken, as our study system. As wild junglefowl and domestic chickens readily admix, conservationists fear that domestic introgression into junglefowl may compromise their wild genotype. By contrasting the whole genomes of 51 chickens with 63 junglefowl from across their natural range, we found evidence of a loss of the wild genotype across the Anthropocene. When comparing against the genomes of junglefowl from approximately a century ago using rigorous ancient-DNA protocols, we discovered that levels of domestic introgression are not equal among and within modern wild populations, with the percentage of domestic ancestry around 20–50%. We identified a number of domestication markers in which chickens are deeply differentiated from historic junglefowl regardless of breed and/or geographic provenance, with eight genes under selection. The latter are involved in pathways dealing with development, reproduction and vision. The wild genotype is an allelic reservoir that holds most of the genetic diversity of G. gallus, a species which is immensely important to human society. Our study provides fundamental genomic infrastructure to assist in efforts to prevent a further loss of the wild genotype through introgression of domestic alleles.
The taxonomic history of Black-shouldered Peafowl; with Darwin's help downgraded from species to variationIn the 19th century the black-shouldered variety of Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus was erroneously viewed by many as a separate species, named P. nigripennis. Others had doubts about its taxonomic status, but Darwin presented firm evidence for it being a variety under domestication, which treatment is now well established and accepted. It being a colour variation rather than a wild species was important for Darwin to prove, as otherwise it could undermine his theory of slow modification by natural selection in the wild.
Notes on a recently described subspecies, and the poorly known nominate subspecies of Rüppell's Parrot, Poicephalus rueppellii mariettae and P. r. rueppelliiRüppell’s Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii was until recently considered to be a monotypic species. Birds from parts of north-western and west-central Angola, however, differ significantly in colour and size from the better-known populations across the rest of their range, which fact was overlooked until very recently. Because the name rueppellii was originally applied to the less-known Angolan population, it was the commoner southern population that lacked a taxonomic identity. The latter was described as Poicephalus rueppellii mariettae Hubers & Schnitker, 2022.
The colourful journey of the Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaoctoIn the 18th and 19th centuries the Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto was widely considered to be the wild ancestor of the domesticated Barbary Dove (domestic S. risoria), and even following its recognition as a species its taxonomic status was a source of confusion. Since 1900, and the species’ massive geographic expansion (both naturally and by introduction) the two taxa have occasionally met. The resultant hybridisation is probably the cause of the large number of Eurasian Collared Doves with the aberrant pale colour of Barbary Doves in areas where hybridisation has occurred.