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Oregon State University Arthropod Collection

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The collection here is a research collection. We're often called an insect museum or an insect collection. And we are a repository for biological specimens. A natural history museum, so to speak, that's been here at OSU since the 1870s at some point. It's probably where we were. Although, the seed of the collection probably dates back even to the 1860s. An arthropod, I like to tell young school kids, it's the multi-legged organisms that go "crunch" when you step on them on the sidewalk. These are the insects, the spiders, the centipedes. Most of us are acquainted with insects and spiders we see them on a daily basis. We don't see some of the less common arthropods that we might have here in the collection. Although, we encounter them everyday in our daily lives, we just don't realize that they're around. So these are the- These are some of the scarab beetles that were donated by Bary Sullivan, a local collector in Salem who recently gave his entire collection to the Oregon State Arthropod Collection. And these are various genera, mostly the genus Chrysina. Over the last 130 years the collection has grown to be a pretty formidable natural history collection. And we are the largest insect collection in the Pacific Northwest and the largest, if not one of the largest collections of Pacific Northwest insects anywhere in the world. We have about 3 million specimen. We're not sure exactly how many specimens that we have in the cabinets that make up the collection mostly because, like a lot of analogical collections, we don't- the history has been one where we haven't kept track of individual specimens but rather the species that make up the collection as a whole. These natural history museums that are basically archives of biodiversity, when and if and should a species become imperiled or extinct these natural history museums are sometimes the best place for scientists and researchers, or the general public, to come in and actually see these taxa, these species, which are incredibly difficult if not impossible to actually see in the wild. And so the specimens are an insurance policy that scientists can still obtain new information about specimens that may no longer exist in the wild. New advances in technology allow us to do things that we never could have dreamed of doing in the 1930s, when some of these specimens were collected. So we can sequence DNA now out of specimens. Who knows what we'll know and be able to do in a 100 years from now, but if we have specimens that are maybe extinct in a 100 years, if we have specimens in museums scientist will be able to apply those as yet undiscovered technologies to these new specimens to understand more about the world, or maybe even help bring some of these species back. In the future it's all science fiction. So we don't know what's going to happen. But what we do know is that if we don't have these species archived somewhere we don't have any chance to apply these new tools of knowledge.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 244
Posted by: umarket on Mar 8, 2010

Collection Curator, Chris Marshall, gives an overview of the collection and explains it's importance in research.

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