National Science Foundation Grant DBI-0446968: “Curation of the wasp nest collection of the American Museum of Natural History,” 2005-2008; Co-PI with Lisa Kronthal
This project undertook curation of the largest collection of social wasp nests (family Vespidae) in the world, according to modern conservation techniques, and with digital photography of the collection to allow Internet access. The collection has been entirely re-housed in new cabinetry, with appropriate supports constructed. The conservation will preserve a unique resource for future researchers. This project has also improved availability of the collection by permitting electronic access.
The collection has already served as the basis for a significant number of scientific publications, including some of general interest to evolutionary biology. It has also served in an educational role, in the form of demonstrations at lectures and tours given to trustees, members, journalists, and other parties. The imaging accomplished under this project has a direct benefit to scientific researchers who are able to study the images without having to visit the Museum, but it will also have indirect benefits as well. Wasp nests are intriguing objects, frequently beautiful, and they promote the attractiveness and value of natural history collections in general. Because of its size and diversity, our wasp nest collection is of particular interest, and we have a model example virtual collection now available to the general public.