• 100 years of deep-sea tubeworms in the collections of the Natural History Museum, London

      Sherlock, E; Neal, L; Glover, AG (2014-12-18)
      Despite having being discovered relatively recently, the Siboglinidae family of poly- chaetes have a controversial taxonomic history. They are predominantly deep sea tube- dwelling worms, often referred to simply as ‘tubeworms’ that include the magnificent me- tre-long Riftia pachyptila from hydrothermal vents, the recently discovered ‘bone-eating’ Osedax and a diverse range of other thin, tube-dwelling species. For a long time they were considered to be in a completely separate Phylum, the Pogonophora, but with the discovery of a segmented posterior and then conclusive DNA evidence, they were re- stored to the Phylum Annelida. In this project curation and research teams have com- bined to enhance the Museum’s collection. This has been facilitated through targeted donation requests, comprehensive digitisation, a location move to the rightful taxonomic place and teaming up with global database initiatives to promote the collection.
    • Does Micro-CT scanning damage DNA in museum specimens?

      Hall, A; Sherlock, E; Sykes, D (Natural Science Collections Association, 2015)
      X-ray micro-computed tomography and DNA sequencing are useful and increasingly common tools in taxonomy and collections research. Whilst the benefits of each method are continually evaluated and debated individually, how the methods impact each other requires more attention. We compared DNA fragment length and the barcode sequence CO1 in samples throughout a CT-scanning protocol, for a range of X-ray exposures and energies. We found no evidence of DNA damage, but advise caution when using precious or archival material, highlighting the need for further investigations and considering potential areas for research.
    • Identification Trainers for the Future: Developing the next generation of expert naturalists at the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity

      West, SVL; Roach, APG (Natural Science Collections Association, 2018-02-02)
      With on-going losses to UK biodiversity occurring, the need for suitably experienced, passionate biologists who can identify and classify plants and animals, and engage young people with the natural world, has never been greater. There has, however, been a decline in biological field skills, particularly in emerging scientists and graduates, in recent years. This is due to a combination of factors, including our changing relationship with nature, reduced childhood engagement, and a lack of education and training opportunities. Cuts to museum specialists have also occurred, making it more difficult for early career professionals to gain the training required to work in field ecology, taxonomy, and as specialist curators. The 'Identification Trainers for the Future' traineeship, launched in 2015 by the Natural History Museum (NHM) in partnership with the Field Studies Council (FSC) and National Biodiversity Network (NBN), and hosted within the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity (AMC), is a strong example of how early career professionals can develop ecological field and curatorial skills. It provides a platform for passionate individuals to train future generations in wildlife identification, support naturalist groups, and engage public audiences to connect with the natural world. This paper outlines the aims and key elements of the ID Trainers for the Future traineeship, reflecting on personal experiences. Finally, the paper outlines initial lessons learnt and next steps as the active phase of the programme draws to a close with the final cohort of trainees in spring of 2018
    • Mollusca Types in Great Britain: founding a union database

      Salvador, A; Ablett, J (NatSCA, 2018)
      Type specimens are essential to the study of malacology and are distributed across a wide range of museums in the UK. This initiative, funded by the John Ellerman Foundation, is the beginning of an integrated access and learning project bringing together curators from across the museum sector. Malacological curators from Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (AC-NMW) and The Natural History Museum, London (NHM) worked with staff at seven partner museums in six UK cities. Together they developed a database and online resource connecting the Mollusca collections of National and other museums for the first time. At the time of publication, data on over 1800 type lots are available on the ‘Mollusca Types in Great Britain’ website. Since the launch in March 2018, some 1,189 users have accessed the site from over 60 countries. The database and website continue to be developed and new entries can be made at any time. The regional museum partners were given training focused on building confidence in recognising, researching, and interpreting the molluscan type specimens in their collections. The broader aims of this project were to strengthen and develop curatorial skills in specialist areas that could be transferable to other historically important natural history collections.