Consistent with the mission of Yale Peabody Museum, we regularly document, collect and study the natural history of our surrounding Connecticut landscape. Over the past 150 years, Peabody staff have developed a remarkable understanding of the world’s biodiversity, and the Yale Natural Lands have figured in that research.
The Peabody collections house many specimens from the eight properties that comprise the Yale Natural Lands, including from early Yale researchers and curators (e.g., A. W. Evans, E. B. Harger, G. E. Pickford, J. R. Reeder, C. L. Remington, J. W. Toumey). However, our overall understanding of the flora and fauna of the Yale Natural Lands is not exhaustive. To redress this we are building on the existing specimen base and bolstering our knowledge of changes to the biodiversity of southern Connecticut by conducting a BioBlitz - a 24-hour race to identify as many living organisms as possible in a specific area - of the Yale Peabody Museum Natural Areas in Branford and Guilford, Connecticut, in early May 2016. This will be followed by a full year of surveys of all Yale Natural Lands during which the Peabody Museum’s Divisions will document the biodiversity of each property, with generous financial support from the Yale Natural Lands Committee.
The specimens and data collected during the BioBlitz and subsequent surveys will be organized and curated by two Yale undergraduate students. These Yale students will receive training in curatorial practices from representative collections managers and staff from the Divisions of Botany (P. Sweeney), Entomology (L. Gall), and Vertebrate Zoology (G. Watkins-Colwell). The culmination of this collaborative body of work will be a publication on Yale Natural Land biodiversity by curators, collections managers, and Yale students in the peer-reviewed scientific publication, the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Data collected during the course of our surveys not only bolsters our understanding of southern Connecticut’s natural history but will provide a solid foundation for future research and education on Yale Natural Lands over the long term as well as continued surveys in the future.
Between 2007 and 2010, the Yale Peabody Museum teamed up with Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and The Connecticut Audubon Society to hold five BioBlitzes — in this case the town of Stratford. One of the main goals of the Stratford BioBlitz was to collect data from a single town in multiple seasons to see how the species diversity of a place changes annually and throughout the year. Habitats available for the Stratford survey included two beaches, a salt marsh, a cranberry bog, rivers, streams, ponds and a mixed hardwood forest. See the results of the first four of these Stratford BioBlitz events:
There are several BioBlitz events each year throughout Connecticut. Many are conducted by municipal land trust organizations or conservation groups interested in learning which species occur on properties in their care.
Center for Conservation and Biodiversity
& Connecticut State Museum of Natural History
University of Connecticut