About the Organization
The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869, with the aim of disseminating knowledge of natural history to the populace of New York and surrounding areas. Since its founding the Museum has developed and maintained scientific collections and supported collection-based research programs that reached to the far corners of the world. The current scientific staff of 40 research scientists and nearly 200 additional scientific personnel, deployed in five divisions, conduct research in zoology, paleontology, anthropology, earth and planetary sciences, and astrophysics. The long history of enquiry by Museum scientists into systematics, paleontology, and other areas of evolutionary biology and geology make the institution an ideal home for a Planetary Biodiversity Inventory project.
PBI principal investigator Randall Schuh is a member of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, a unit comprising 11 research scientists (curators) with specializations in the Insecta, Arachnida, Cnidaria, Annelida, and Protista.
Contribution to the Project
As the prime institution for the PBI project, the American Museum has served as one of two foci for PBI research and training.
Collections: The American Museum has developed, over time, one of the world's premier collections of Heteroptera. This critical PBI resource currently contains approximately 800,000 specimens, about 250,000 of which are Miridae, with more than 150,000 of those belonging to the Orthotylinae and Phylinae and therefore pertaining directly to PBI goals. Coverage of the collections is strongest for western North America, southern South America, Australia, and Africa. There are, nonetheless, substantial holdings from the Palearctic and southeast Asia. The collection is relatively rich in types, with represented species deriving from the work of Linnavuori, Schuh, Schwartz, and Stonedahl in particular.
Library: The Museum maintains a world-class natural history library, materials from which were used to prepare a "digital library" of more than 25,000 pages for the PBI project.
Imaging: The Museum Imaging Facility houses a Hitachi digital scanning electron microscope ideally suited for observations during the PBI project. Also utilized was the laser confocal microscope that has been shown to be useful in revealing details of structure in male genitalia in insects. The American Museum has purchased, with PBI funds, a Microptics-USA (Visionary Digital) digital imaging system equipped with a digital SLR camera, Infinity K2 and HDF lenses, and a ML-1000 stroboscopic lighting system; the unit has become the method of choice for producing high-quality digital images of insects.
IT Services: The American Museum maintains Linux-based email and web servers. The latter provided accessibility of PBI web resources for use by all international project participants and by the broader user community. IT support to the PBI project was provided by the Department of Library Services and the Department of Digital Technology.