In 1994 the entire nonplant collection of the George M. Gray Museum was transferred from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to the Yale Peabody Museum and incorporated within the Division of Invertebrate Zoology and the Division of Vertebrate Zoology (ichthyology). The material is primarily the result of faunal and ecological surveys of the Woods Hole region conducted by the MBL’s Systematics Ecology Program in the 1960s, under the direction of Melbourne R. Carriker.
Recently, the Peabody Museum received funding from the National Science Foundation’s CSBR program (Collections In Support of Biological Research) to curatorially upgrade and integrate the invertebrate zoology holdings of the former Gray Museum (Award Number 1203483). When completed, more than 20,000 specimen lots will have been processed with all data available via the museum website: http://peabody.yale.edu/collections/search-collections.
In addition to specimen data, a large number of images are being made of New England invertebrates; images are of former Gray Museum specimens and are augmented with newly made color photographs when possible. These images are linked to the relevant taxa which appear in the “Woods Hole Key to Invertebrates” produced by the Marine Biological Laboratory and first published in 1964. The goal is to make the online version of this key interactive with images and updated species classification. A beta version of one chapter is available for examination.
The George M. Gray Museum traces its beginnings to material that originated from the Supply Department of the Marine Biological Laboratory. The museum is named for George Gray, an early collector in the Supply Department who spent time curating the preserved specimens. The collection developed slowly, but underwent rapid expansion after the transfer of specimens from the Systematics Ecology Program.
The Marine Biological Laboratory Systematics Ecology Program was founded by Carriker in 1963 to study the flora and fauna of the western North Atlantic. The invaluable reference manual Keys to Invertebrates of the Woods Hole Region was published in 1969. Subsequently, as an outgrowth of this manual, a series focusing on taxonomy was published as National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Technical Reports under the subseries title Fauna and Flora of the Eastern (originally Northeastern) United States.
The George M. Gray Museum collection complements the Division’s extensive holdings of invertebrates from the same region assembled and studied by Addison E. Verrill and his colleagues during the latter half of the 19th century, partially as a result of his association with the U.S. Fish Commission. Many of the New England localities studied by the Fish Commission were ultimately resurveyed by the Systematics Ecology Program’s dredging operations nearly 100 years later. The combination of these 2 collections is a unique resource that will help document historical faunal changes in New England.