Dynamics of Neo-Tropical Arachnids

Today’s post is a guest post by Andrew Mularo,  an undergraduate student in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. He is currently doing his Tropical Behavior Evolution and Ecology research project under Dr. Rachelle M. M. Adams and Dr. Jonathan Shik.

You may love them or you may fear them, but no one can deny the incredible ecological importance of spiders and scorpions. As an aspiring biologist, I have chosen to study the interactions between arachnids and their environment in the tropical rainforests of Panama for the 2017 Tropical Behavioral Evolution and Ecology course. The tropics are a biodiversity hotspot for the majority of the world’s organisms, so there are plenty of creatures to look at. From the smallest spiderling to the largest tarantula, I am curious to see how these cryptic and intriguing animals interact with their ecosystem.

For my project, I am doing an observational study where I am assessing the relationship between leaf litter and arachnid diversity and abundance. I am accomplishing this by creating several 50 meter transects in the Panamanian rainforest, sampling leaf litter with 1 square meter quadrants along each transect. For each quadrant, I take a measurement of leaf litter depth, and sift through the leaves to extract any organisms out of the area. Back at the lab, I sort through the organisms, first finding any arachnids in the sample, and then any other insect or invertebrate, such as ants, beetles, millipedes, snails, mites and many others. With these data, I hope to make a correlation between leaf litter abundance and arachnid diversity and abundance, as well as a correlation between the diversity of potential prey items and arachnid predators.

Naturally, the majority of the organisms that I have been assessing have been very small, from the size of a thumbnail to not even being visible to the human eye. However, there

Wandering Spider (Photo by A. Mularo)

are several occasions where I have observed some extremely imposing arachnids in the tropical forest. One of these includes the huntsman spider, an extremely large nocturnal species that does not rely on a web to capture its prey. This family of spiders is very poorly researched, and is largely unknown how dangerous the venom is for the majority of species. However, they are quite shy, and often scurry away at the sight or sound of a human.

Another fascinating group of organisms I see occasionally are scorpions. The two pictured below are from the genus Tityus, whose venom is very potent. I found the two in the picture below, which we believe to be different species, huddled in close quarters in the water well of a bromeliad. While potentially dangerous, these are a relatively uncommon sight in the rainforest. Nevertheless, it is always good to be careful where you step.

Tityus scorpions (photo by A. Mularo)

While many of them are feared, arachnids are some of the most fascinating organisms on the planet. They come in all shapes and sizes, and have a wide array of interesting characteristics that are of great interest to scientists. Being interested in biology since I was a child, I have always dreamed of coming to the tropics so I could study the vast diversity of organisms, and I could not have picked a better group of organisms to focus on!

Internship, Volunteering or Job?

We at the Triplehorn Insect Collection frequently receive inquiries from students and even professionals seeking opportunities to learn about insects and insect collections. Some people are looking for training in a specific area, others have a more general interest. We also receive many inquiries regarding volunteering and research opportunities in the collection. We try to accommodate as many requests as our staff and resources allow.

In recent years we have had many undergraduate student interns in the collection. Most of them were Entomology majors at Ohio State, some were majoring in Biology, Zoology, and event in Art. We also had student interns from other colleges and universities. Some of these students spent a summer with us, others took internships during the semester for school credit. Some stayed for several semesters, others only a couple of weeks.

Because of the growing interest, we decided that it was time to make the internship offers a bit more structured. A few weeks ago we announced two internship opportunities for the fall semester, one for insect imaging and one for insect curation. As the email inquiries started arriving, it quickly became clear that there was interest (we received 25 inquiries in 10 days), but there was also some confusion on what an internship is versus an undergrad research experience, an undergrad job, or volunteering.

So what is an internship? How does that differ from volunteering? Is internship the same as research experience? What’s the deal with internship for school credit?

Here is our take:

Internship – Our understanding of internship is that it is a ‘mentored, practical learning experience in a professional environment’. Mentored, because it’s important that the experience be structured and directed. An intern, in our opinion, should not be given a task and left to fend for themselves. Our interns come in during regular hours only and are always monitored by a trained staff or experience student worker. Practical emphasizes that the intern will take what they have learned, both previously and as part of the internship experience, and put it to good use. The word experience has popped up several times: this is meant to emphasize (as does practical) that we want to do more than just talk about the work we do, we want the interns to actually do it. Finally, we mean professional environment not in terms of funds, but in terms of being serious and implementing whatever the best practices are.

There is something that is deliberately missing in that definition, though, and that is any mention of financial compensation. Some places offer paid internships. We do not. First, we simply cannot afford it. Second, what we provide is an educational opportunity in a university environment and we take the responsibility to make it a structured, mentored experience.

Beyond the practical learning experience, students can get school credit for their efforts by enrolling in formal internship course (in our department this is EEOB 3191, 1-3 credit hours; other departments offer some form of internship courses as well). And whether one enrolls for credit or not, at the end of the day the intern – we hope – has made the kind of personal connection with their mentor that makes for a substantive and useful letter of recommendation later on when they apply for a real job, grad school, med school, etc.

Note that research internships involve actively working in a research project under supervision of a faculty or research scientist. That is not the kind of internships we are currently offering. The broad goal of our insect curation internship is to familiarize students with the work involved in maintaining and enhancing a research quality insect collection. Specific objectives involve learning the basics of insect specimen preparation (sort, dry, mount, and label insect specimens). In addition, student interns are offered opportunities to learn other techniques and protocols, depending on their progress, their (and our) time availability, and their interest.

Volunteering – The core of volunteering is that the person donates their time and effort in support of an organization, projects, etc. As such, it can overlap a lot with our concept of intern. But it differs, basically, in that we’re not necessarily promising a well-rounded, holistic and mentored experience. Volunteers come to us willing to help in whatever capacity because they think our work is valuable in some way. We try to match the tasks with the experience that volunteers already have: one person might be particularly good with organizational skills, another with the fine motor skills needed to mount and label specimens. And while interns are typically young persons looking to gain skills and experience, our volunteers run the gamut in ages, from teenagers to retirees. Right now we have two amazing volunteers: Lauralee Thompson, who has just completed one year of volunteering with us on Sept 8, and Jan Nishimura.

Student Job – When we advertise a ‘undergraduate curatorial assistant’ job, it means 1) we can only hire undergraduate students (that’s what our money is earmarked for), 2) we have a particular set of goals to accomplish in a particular time and we offer training on the specific tasks related to the job, and 3) it is just the nature of an insect collection, in particular, the large number of specimens, that the tasks are likely to be repetitive and tedious.

In the end, though, students who are hired, say, to do specimen data entry, end up learning a lot about the various aspects of the curation as they will have the need to perform some of them, they also learn about geography, computers, and, no surprise, about insects. For young persons, jobs like the ones we offer are also great opportunities to learn good work habits and to foster and demonstrate attributes like reliability, honesty, diligence, perseverance, ability to learn and to work with others in a collaborative way. Then, this too can translate into the kind of reference letter that really makes a difference to a potential new employer.

We currently have two specimen digitization projects funded by the National Science Foundation, one for beetles, and another, that just started, for butterflies and moths. Neither of these projects would be feasible without the work of our undergrad curatorial assistants.

One thing is common between interns, volunteers, and student workers: they are all learning and they all need care and attention from the collection staff. It is important for us, staff, supervisors, faculty, to engage with them and to nurture their interest in the work we do. That not only helps to keep them motivated, but it also fosters good interactions between everyone in the collection, and provides them with a positive experience that they will hopefully remember and cherish for the rest of their lives.

Current Digitization Projects:

Digitization PEN: Integration of data from the Triplehorn Insect Collection with the Southwestern Collections of Arthropods Network. Award #1503659. Start Date: July 1, 2015, Estimated End: June 30, 2018. Investigator(s): Norman Johnson & Luciana Musetti.

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Lepidoptera of North America Network: Documenting Diversity in the Largest Clade of Herbivores (LepNet). Award #1602081. Start Date: July 1, 2016, Estimated End: June 30, 2020. Subcontract from the University of Northern Arizona to Norman Johnson & Luciana Musetti.


If you would like to know more about our internship program, about the digitization projects underway in the collection, or about possible collection-based undergraduate research experience, please contact us at osuc-curator@osu.edu.


About the Authors: Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Norman Johnson is a Professor in the Department of EEOB and Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.


Going where the wasps are.


On the previous post we talked a bit about visits to the Museum of Biological Diversity and more specifically to the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Today I want to turn around and show you what we see & do when we put our ‘research scientist‘ hats and go visit other collections.

There’s no walk-ins when it comes to visiting research collections. Setting up an appointment with the curator or collection manager is a must. That allows the staff to prepare for our visit, to set up work stations for us, to review the material we are interested in, and to do curatorial work ahead of our visit if necessary.

Collections welcome research visitors because that fulfill their mission of providing service to the scientific community. In return, visiting scientists add value to the collection by providing expert identification to specimens in the collection, and many times helping out with curation and organization of the collection.

When we get to a museum or collection, the first thing we see is, of course, the door. While most public museums have imposing entrances, many times the access to very important research collections is a modest door on the side of a building. The size and type of door absolutely does not reflect the quality of the collections inside.

Once inside, we have access to the inner sanctum of the collections: rows of cabinets filled with drawers filled with dry specimens carefully separated by group; vaults containing insect specimens preserved in ethanol, waiting to be sorted to family, genus, species. And that’s when our work begins!

During a research visit we usually: 1) examine (lots and lots of) specimens, dry or wet, under the microscope, 2) add identification labels to specimens that we recognize, 3) database the specimen label data, and 4) take photos of specimens (and specimen labels). Sometimes we do only 1 and 2, other times we do mostly 3 and 4. It depends on the collection and what we are hoping to accomplish during our visit.

Over the years we had the opportunity to visit many (many!) amazing research collections in various countries. Besides the collections, their rich treasure of specimens, and their dedicated curatorial staff, we also learnt a lot about the places and the people who live there. Looking forward to our next research visit to a collection!


About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an entomologist and Curator of the C. A. Triplehorn Insect Collection.

Up close and personal: insects and molluscs


Here’s one question I get frequently from visitors: “Why, oh, why, isn’t the Museum of Biological Diversity open to everyone every day?” That’s a very good question! Here’s an answer. Unlike institutions such as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum, the Carnegie Museum, or our neighbor the Cleveland Museum among others, our museum largely grew out of a background of higher education and research.  We have a different structure and a different mission than these other very fine institutions.  The most visible outcome of these differences is the fact that we don’t have large display areas and exhibits. We also do not have staff dedicated to public outreach. But it’s good to keep in mind that the MBD collections vary in the kinds of services they provide to the community. Each is unique in it’s own way.

My little corner of the MBD is the Triplehorn Insect Collection. We are a research facility and most of our specimens are only accessible to professional scientists and scientists in training (graduate students, postdoctoral associates, etc.)  This policy gets me in trouble with a lot of people who love insects and would like to come in to “see” (many times that means “touch”) the collection.  So, before anyone else gets hot under the collar about that, let’s try to understand what that policy means.

Dried insect specimens are as fragile as they are colorful and beautiful. The more they are handled and exposed to light and humidity, the faster and more likely they are to get damaged.  The insect specimens in the Triplehorn collection are the result of more than 100 years of careful collecting and curation, many of them were collected in forests and meadows and prairies that do not exist anymore. These specimens are, literally, irreplaceable, and it is our responsibility to keep them intact for many more long years.

Aquatic beetles.

Aquatic beetles. Part of the holdings of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.


Because of that, we restrict access to the specimens to only the people who must use them for scientific study, professionals who have lots of experience with museum specimens and therefore are less likely to damage our precious charges. As the curator of the collection, it is my responsibility to protect and preserve the specimens for the long run. To do that I have to enforce the “restricted access” policy.

Now, the fact that we are a research collection does not mean we don’t welcome visitors.  Quite the contrary! We are committed to sharing our knowledge and love of biodiversity with everyone interested.  While we don’t have exhibits per se, we frequently and happily provide tours of the collection to people from the local community. Or even not so local: our audience is wide and varied, from k-12 to university classes, to family or neighborhood groups, to homeschool groups, to citizen scientists and individuals interested in local and global insect diversity.


Up to now we have been scheduling visits as requests come in and our time allows, but starting this month we in the insect collection will be teaming up with our colleagues in the Mollusc Division of the MBD to offer guided tours of the two collections to the general public on set dates.  This initiative comes as a response to the increased interest in the collections, demonstrated by the increase in visit requests.

Tours will still be arranged in advance, but by specifying which days are open for tours we hope to make the whole process a bit easier and more predictable. The set dates might not work for all visitors, but by working together and establishing a structure for tour activities, we hope to continue serving the community without drastically increasing the work-load of our already overworked staff.


The next available dates for insect collection/mollusc collection joint tours are Friday, October 23rd and Friday, November 6th, from 1pm to 4pm. Total estimated tour time for the two collections is between 45 min to 1 hour/group. Group size limit is 20 adults.  For more information or to schedule a guided tour, please contact Tom Watters or Luciana Musetti.


About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an entomologist and Curator of the C.A. Triplehorn Insect Collection.

You’re an insect curator. Cool! So what is it you do?!


We frequently give tours of the Triplehorn Insect Collection to school groups, families, etc.  Since most entomologists like to talk about their insects, that’s usually a fun time for me.  It is also a great time to flex my General Entomology muscles.  Visitors ask lots of questions, some of them interesting (How many ants are there in an ant’s nest? Do young cicadas sing underground?), some funny (Do you eat bugs every day?), some actually very difficult to answer (How many bugs are there in the world right now, how much do they weigh, and how do you know? How come you don’t have a list of all insect species in the world?).

Open collection cabinet showing insect drawers.

Open collection cabinet showing insect drawers.

During a recent tour of the collection, after my brief intro on the history and structure of the collection, an 8-year old visitor asked me point blank: ‘If all the bugs in the collection are dead & put away in their little boxes, what do you do the whole day?’  Somebody behind me gasped, but I thought that was a good question, especially as I had just told them that we keep our specimens in cabinets, safe from humidity, light, and especially other bugs that might want to try and eat the dead specimens. So I told them that, yes, we keep the insects safe in cabinets, but that’s when they are not being used. And use them we do, a lot!

Much of what we know about the natural world comes from museum specimens. Scientists use the specimens and the data associated with them to answer many basic questions such as:

  • Where can you find this (species of) wasp? – museum specimens have labels attached to them that contain locality information.  The geographic coordinates for the locality can be plotted on a map like the one below. Data for multiple specimens of a species help us understand the geographic distribution of the species.

    Distribution of Pelecinus polyturator based on museum specimen data.

    Specimen records plotted on a map show the skewed distribution of Pelecinus polyturator, a parasitoid wasp, in North America.

  • When is the best time of the year to find that wasp? – specimen labels may contain a date of collection, which then may help pin-point the time of the year the species can be found in a specific place.
A detailed specimen label.

This label provides both detailed locality data and biological information (host species) as well.

Detailed specimen labels.

Label including geographic coordinates, altitude, type of trap, and habitat.

With locality and date of collection alone we can already learn a tremendous amount about that species of wasp.  For some areas, we can look up weather reports from that exact day and see if it was raining that day, what the average, the maximum and minimum temperatures were, also the barometric pressure, and other environmental factors that may (or may not) affect the species.

Labels may provide information on the way the specimen was collected (examples: by hand at light; using traps like a Malaise (below, middle), or yellow pans (below, right)), and the kind of vegetation (forest, grassland, prairie, etc.) encountered in the area it was collected.

Light trap

Malaise trapYellow pan trap





Sometimes labels also include information on what the specimen was feeding on, burrowing in, coming out of, what other species it was associated with, and more. It is quite amazing how much valuable information insect collectors manage to squeeze onto a tiny piece of paper!

The label information found on museum specimens is extremely valuable data for scientists trying to learn about a species and to start assessing the impact of environmental changes on living organisms.

Now, back to the young visitor’s question: ‘What do we do the whole day?’ One of the major responsibilities of a curator (= caretaker) is to make specimens and specimen data available for scientific study. That can be done either by carefully packaging and sending the specimens on loan to a scientist, or, more recently, by databasing the specimen information and making it available online to the scientific community and the general public.  Either way, that involves a lot of work, particularly in a large — we hold about 4 million dry specimens — and, relatively old — we just turned 80 in 2014 — collection like the Triplehorn.  It is not uncommon for us to loan 3,000 specimens to one scientist. The largest loan we sent out to date contained 28,000 specimens – we worked on the preparation of that loan for months!  We also welcome scientists who want to come on research visits to the collection.

So, just making the specimens and the specimen data available to the scientists is a lot of work. We could stop right there and we would still be very busy every day of the week. But we don’t stop there, oh no!  The collection keeps growing in various ways.

  • Scientists deposit voucher specimens of their research with us — that’s actually one of our main missions, to house and preserve vouchers of scientific studies so other scientists can examine those specimens if and when they need to.
  • Private insect collectors also donate their collections to us — just last month we were presented with the late Steve Sommer Collection of butterflies and moths from Ohio and the Midwest, about 1,000 specimens.
Repairing specimens.

Repairing specimens.

These new arrivals are placed in a -40°C freezer for several days to kill any potential pests that might be infesting the specimens.  Next they are examined for damage, and even sometimes fixed — broken parts are glued to a card or put away into tiny vials or gel caps. After this basic upkeep work is done, we add the specimen data into our database — sounds simple, but there are many steps to that operation, and, you guessed, a lot of work involved. Finally, we add the specimens to the main collection.

I won’t get into details of the curatorial or the databasing work here, but in case you are interested, you can read about it in the collection’s blog, the Pinning Block, and follow our  posts on our Facebook page.

Oh, and did I mention we collect?  Yes, we collect new specimens for our own research (in my case, and Dr. Johnson’s, it is parasitoid wasps), or to fill in the gaps we have in the collection. That’s a big source of growth and (guessed righ again?) more work!

Dr. Norman Johnson collecting parasitoid wasps in South Africa.

Dr. Norman Johnson, Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection, collecting parasitoid wasps in South Africa.

Newly collected specimens are always being prepared, dried, mounted, labeled, databased, and added to the collection.  These specimens will one day be studied by scientists and maybe even be described into a new species.  In the meantime it is up to the curatorial staff of the collection to keep them safe and accessible. And that’s an entirely new post. Keep tuned!

About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is the Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection at Ohio State University. All photos are courtesy of the author.

Thanks to Norman Johnson & Gisele de Souza da Silva for careful review and thoughtful suggestions.

Welcome to the OSU Bio Museum blog


Today I have the pleasure to welcome you to OSU Bio Museum, a blog about biodiversity, research and museum work at the Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity.  This endeavor is the successor to our newsletter. That effort lived in both the physical and digital worlds, but to keep up with the times and changing needs, the blog is a wholly digital enterprise. The purpose remains the same, though: to share with the community the happenings, news, and successes (and sometimes failures) of the Museum. Our plan is to have weekly postings during the academic semester, with the post authors rotating among the different units in the Museum. We will also feature a Media Gallery every week. My objective in this inaugural post is to briefly describe what those units are and how the Museum is organized and functions.

The Museum, let’s call it the MBD for short, coalesced in its present form in 1992 when the University moved the bulk of the biological collections from the Columbus campus to a newly renovated building on West Campus, at our current address of 1315 Kinnear Road.

Museum of Biological Diversity on 1315 Kinnear Road.

Museum of Biological Diversity on 1315 Kinnear Road

For more than 20 years the MBD has been a bit of a strange beast in that it has been a voluntary association among the collections rather than a real, defined administrative unit. Originally, most of the collections were administered by the Departments of Botany, Zoology, and Entomology. Two or three reorganizations later the primary department is Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology (EEOB for short) in the College of Arts & Sciences, and a smaller component associated with the Department of Entomology in the College of Food, Agriculture & Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The Entomology connection is a new one as of September 1, 2015, a reflection of a change in my formal appointment to 75% EEOB and 25% Entomology.

Museum IconThe overall mission of the MBD, just as the University as a whole, is teaching, research, and service. Inside the building we have, of course, the collections themselves, but also office and lab space for faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, emeriti and undergraduate students. The most glaring absence, though, is space dedicated to public exhibits. We compensate for that in two ways, our annual Museum Open House and guided tours of the facility. The tours are organized on an appointment basis only and have encompassed a wide range of groups, from elementary school kids and scout groups to University President’s Club members.  Anyone interested in scheduling a guided tour of the Museum should contact us, or contact one of the collections directly to make arrangements. It’s my personal aspiration that in the future it may be possible to develop exhibit space for the public in the building, but that’s still just a gleam in my eye!

If you have not done so yet, please visit the Museum website and follow our Facebook page.

So far I’ve referred to the units of the MBD without much explanation. What are they? Well, there are seven main collections: the Triplehorn Insect Collection (which I direct, but for which Dr. Luciana Musetti is the real driving force); the Acarology Laboratory (led by Dr. Hans Klompen), the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics (led by Dr. Doug Nelson), the Herbarium (Dr. John Freudenstein), the Division of Molluscs (Dr. Tom Watters), the Division of Tetrapods (Ms. Stephanie Malinich), and the Division of Fishes (Dr. Meg Daly). The naming system, as I write this, must seem very confusing – what’s a collection vs. a division? The names are historical artifacts that, perhaps, made some sense at one time, but now they’re all basically equivalent. As you’ll see in my descriptions below and in future posts, there is a lot of variation among collections in their size, staffing, history and aspirations. So let’s go through the seven units:

Triplehorn collection icon, genus NeomidaCharles A. Triplehorn Insect Collection. The insect collection contains about 4 million prepared specimens, nearly 3,000 primary types, and one of the world’s largest leafhopper collections. The collection formally began in 1934 by Prof. Josef N. Knull, and has strong holdings in beetles (Coleoptera), Hemiptera (true bugs and hoppers), Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps), Odonata (dragon- and damselflies) and Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets). Originally the specimens largely came from the United States, but we have expanded significantly since then. Recent collecting trips have been made to Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Malaysia (Sarawak). Ongoing research is focused on the systematics of parasitic wasps and the development of information technologies to share specimen data and images globally.

To know more about the Triplehorn collection, visit the website and follow the collection’s lively social media presence, which include the Pinning Block blog, a Facebook page, a Flickr image site & a Twitter feed.

Yellow mite (Lorryia formosa)Acarology Laboratory.  Initiated by George W. Wharton in 1951, the Acarology collection is considered one of the best and most extensive insect and mite collections in North America. Over 150,000 identified and considerably more than one million unidentified specimens are included, preserved either in alcohol or on microscope slides. The geographic range is worldwide. The collection gets extensive use during the annual Acarology Summer Program, the foremost training workshop in systematic acarology in the world.

More information about the Acarology Lab can be found on their website. They also maintain the Acarology Summer Program website.

Borror Lab iconBorror Laboratory of Bioacoustics. The Borror lab is one of the leading collections of animal sound recordings in the United States. The Laboratory is named for Dr. Donald J. Borror, and entomologist and ornithologist who was a pioneer in the field of bioacoustics. He contributed many recordings including the first sound specimen in the archive, a recording of a blue jay in 1948. Today, the sound collection contains over 42,000 recordings, the majority of which are birds. Donald Borror also contributed many recordings of insects. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and even fish are part of the collection. The recordings are widely used for research, education, conservation, and public and commercial media.

Visit the Borror Lab website for more information and make sure to check their audio CDs.

Ohio Buckeye in bloom

Herbarium. The OSU Herbarium was founded in 1891 by Dr. William A. Kellerman,well-known botanical explorer of Central America, pioneer mycologist (that’s fungi!), and the University’s first professor of botany. It serves as a source of botanical data and as a base of operations for a wide variety of taxonomic, evolutionary, phytogeographical, and biochemical research programs; preserves specimens as vouchers to document present and past research studies or vegetation patters; serves as a reference point for the precise identification of plants, algae, protists, fungi and lichens; and serves the public by identifying plant specimens, providing morphological, systematic, and other information about plant species, and answering questions about plants, their properties and uses. The Herbarium currently holds over 550,000 specimens, including over 420 type specimens.

For more information about the Herbarium visit their website.

Molluscs icon

Molluscs. The Mollusc Division is really a collection of collections, containing over 1 million specimens in 140,000 lots. Over the years a number of private and institutional collections have been organized into the collection here today. The earliest large accession was that of Henry Moores (1812-1896) and was worldwide, both fossil and recent. Moores assembled one of the most diverse collections of labeled shells of that period. The University purchased this collection around 1890, added several private collections to it, and cataloged the material as part of the holdings of the first organization of the Ohio State University Museum in 1891. This collection and others were given to the Ohio State Museum on Campus in 1925, maintained and enlarged for nearly half a century, then returned to the administration of the University in 1970.

The Division of Molluscs has an interesting blog, Shell-fire and Clam-nation, and a website.

Tetrapod icon

Tetrapods. The Division of Tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) is a repository of Ohio and North American species and some worldwide research expeditions. The collections were established shortly after the founding of The Ohio State University in 1870 and grew through the collecting efforts of OSU faculty. Specimens date as far back as 1837 and include many now-protected species as well as extinct species such as the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet, and Passenger Pigeon. The collection houses more than 170 amphibian, 200 reptile, almost 2,000 bird and 250 mammal species.

To learn more about the OSU Tetrapod collection, visit their website and their blog, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.

Bowfin (Amia calva) skeleton

Fish. The Fish Division began with the collections of D. Albert Tuttle, OSU’s first zoologist. Officially recognized in 1895, the fish collection grew and moved from the Botany and Zoology Building to OSU’s Biological Station at Cedar Point, to the Ohio State Historical Society, to the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory on Gilbraltar Island, to Sullivant Hall, and finally (whew!) to its current location as part of the Museum of Biological Diversity. The collection is primarily used as a resource for systematics research, laboratory teaching, and public education. It is also a resource for state and federal scientists who use it as a basis for comparative studies, document the geographic ranges of fish, and conduct ecological assessments and environmental impact statements.

Visit the Fish Division website for more information about their activities.

We hope you enjoy the blog and please send us your feedback!


About the AuthorDr. Norman F. Johnson is a Professor with appointments in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology & the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University. He is also the Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Norman studies the systematics and evolution of parasitoid wasps in the family Platygastridae (Hymenoptera).