The Gibbs Award plaque presented to Lynne Parenti now hangs in her Fish Division office.
Lynne R. Parenti, Curator of Fishes, was honored at
the recent annual meetings of the American Society of Ichthyologists and
Herpetologists (ASIH), held July 10-15 in Albuquerque, NM. Lynne received the
prestigious 2013 Robert H. Gibbs Jr. Memorial Award given annually to recognize
an outstanding body of published work in systematic ichthyology. The award was
presented by Gibbs Award Committee Chair Eric Hilton whose remarks included
that “the awardee’s body of published work has been influential on the broader
systematics community, without taxonomic bounds.” This lifetime achievement award was
established in 1988 with an endowment from the family of the late Bob Gibbs,
former curator in the Division of Fishes and Chairman of the Department of
Vertebrate Zoology, and consists of a plaque and cash award. The National
Museum of Natural History now boasts seven out of the 25 recipients of the Gibbs
The Feather Identification
Lab, Division of Birds, was recently invited to participate in two outreach events.
On 13 June, Carla Dove and
Faridah Dahlan (photo) attended the opening of “Genome: Unlocking Life’s
Code” to demonstrating the investigation of the “Miracle on the
Hudson” birdstrike case. The Feather Lab is featured in the new exhibit
which is a multi-year collaboration between (NMNH) and the National Human
Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). Samples from the US Airways Flight 1549 were run on the E-Gel®
(Life Technologies) Agarose Gel Electrophoresis System (far right) during the
opening to demonstrate that they contained DNA from Canada Geese. After
the exhibit closes at NMNH, it will travel around North America for several
Kirill Vinnikov and Lynne Parenti at the State Department reception in front of Kirill’s poster and flag of the Russian Federation.
a 2013 International Fulbright Science & Technology Fellow, was honored at a
reception and scientific poster session on June 11 hosted by the U.S.
Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Kirill, one of forty 2013 Fulbright S & T
fellows, is a native of Vladivostok, Russia.
He is currently a third-year
doctoral student at the University of Hawaii, Manoa; Kassi Cole, Fish Division Research Associate, is his major
professor. Kirill is a frequent visitor
to the Fish Division where he studies fish specimens and consults with Lynne Parenti, Fish Division Curator
andthe external examiner on his
committee, this month on his dissertation proposal on the evolution of
freshwater insular gobies of the Central Pacific.
Workshop for the Natural History Museum of Oman
February 23-27, 2013, Muscat,
Hanan Al Nabhani showing off a bulbul specimens she prepared
The Natural History Museum of Oman opened at its current location on 20 December 1985,
not quite 30 years ago. The young museum
consists of a scientific collection and exhibit spaces with examples of
indigenous plants, insects, mammals and birds.
The current staff of four Museum Specialists has been taking outstanding
care of the scientific collections with the means they have. But, with a new Natural History Museum under
construction, they needed assistance in updating their practices for the modern
Carol Butler, Assistant Director for Collections NMNH, Christina
Gebhard, Museum Specialist, Division of
Birds NMNH; and John Simmons, President of Museologica and expert in fluid
preserved collections, traveled to Oman February 20-28th to assist the Oman Natural History Museum with
collections assessment and care initiatives. This was the third consultation trip the Smithsonian has taken to
At the 125th Conference of the
Wilson Ornithological Society, Williamsburg, VA, 7-9 March 2013, the Edwards
Prize for best paper in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology for 2012 was awarded
to: Storrs L. Olson. 2012. History, structure, evolution,
behavior, distribution, and ecology of the extinct Hawaiian genus Ciridops
(Fringillidae, Carduelini, Drepanidini), Wilson Journal of Ornithology
Suzy Peurach with members of the BSA Report to the Nation Delegation. Photo by Dave Hunt.
To inspire future scientists and museum
specialists is part of their jobs that Suzy Peurach, USGS Division of Mammals,
and NMNH Anthropology colleague, Dave Hunt, find extremely fulfilling.
One of their favorite annual outreach efforts involves the Boy Scouts of
America (BSA) Report to the Nation Delegation. Every year, as part of their
congressional charter, the BSA sends a special delegation of 6 to 10 scouts to
present their annual Report the Nation to the Speaker of the U.S. House of
Representatives. The report summarizes the major accomplishments and
contributions that the BSA has generated and details the organization, programs
and initiatives that the BSA supports.
In keeping with the BSA ideals of public service,
the delegation is invited to visit with staff members at various government
agencies, including the Pentagon, White House, CIA, congressional offices, U.S.
Supreme Court and the Smithsonian. The BSA delegation has met with NMNH
staff since 2006 and they were eager to learn about what we actually do in the hidden rooms of the museum.
The Division of Birds would like to welcome Museum
Specialist, Jacob Saucier, to the Department of Vertebrate Zoology. Jacob
comes to us from the University of Wyoming where he is finishing his Master’s
degree at the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, working on the
systematics and phylogeography of Thryothorus
Jacob is originally from Louisiana and attended Louisiana State
University (LSU) as an undergraduate where he developed a scientific interest
in birds after taking an Ornithology course
from renowned ornithologist James Van Remsen at the LSU Museum of Natural
Science. Jacob quickly became skilled in both field and museum ornithology
and participated in foreign and local collecting expeditions. Immediately
after graduation, Jacob was hired by LSU to database National Park Service
specimens collected in Jean Lafitte National Park as part of a broader effort
to document NPS specimens in museums.
Bob Reynolds, Biological Survey Unit (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) at NMNH, Jay Cole and Carol Townsend, American Museum of Natural History, and Ross MacCulloch and Amy Lathrop, Royal Ontario Museum, are the coauthors of a new monograph on the amphibians and reptiles of Guyana, South America. The treatise is based largely on their collective field work in Guyana since the late 1980s.
Leptodactylus pentadactylus, USNM 320986. Photo by William W. Lamar.
Guyana, much of which is pristine and naturally beautiful, has a diverse tropical flora and fauna owing to its varied habitats and long geological history. Cool and moist isolated highlands on mountaintops of the Guiana Shield that have been above sea level for more than a billion years, hot and humid lowland Amazon rain forest, drier tropical savannas, major freshwater rivers, and Atlantic beaches are home to at least 324 species of amphibians and reptiles (137 frogs and toads; 11 caecilians; 4 crocodylians; 4 amphisbaenians; 56 lizards; 97 snakes; and 15 turtles). Many live nowhere else in the world, others are endemic to small areas of Guyana and immediately adjacent sites in neighboring countries.
Juvenile filefish collected from a plankton net in Carrie Bow Cay, Belize. Photo by Carole Baldwin.
Smithsonian researcher Carole Baldwin and LAB Director Lee Weigt, with the support of Cristina Castillo, Maggie Halloran, and Diane Pitassy, devoted part of their December 2012 trip to Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, to the development of ground-truthing protocols for a new marine biodiversity research tool: rapid genetic assessment of biodiversity from homogenized plankton samples. Sorting and identifying individual specimens in a given plankton sample for marine biodiversity assessments is time-consuming. The team asked: can homogenized--or “blenderized”-- plankton samples that comprise a mixture of larval fishes and invertebrates be resolved rapidly into distinct species using new genetic assessment tools such as Next Generation DNA sequencing? Can they do the same with environmental DNA from water samples? From their efforts to genetically barcode the ichthyological fauna of the Caribbean over the past decade, Carole and Lee have a large baseline genetic dataset that can be used to evaluate the success rate of homogenate analysis.
Russel Wallace’s (1876) map of zoogeographical regions of the world was a
milestone of 19th century biogeography. Based on the distributions and taxonomic
relationships of mammalian families, Wallace’s classification became a foundation
of modern biogeography. An international
group of biogeographers, including Gary Graves (Division of Birds), recently published a
next-generation map of Wallacean zoogeographic regions, incorporating
phylogenetic and distributional data for >20,000 terrestrial vertebrate
species. This study, published in Science (4 January 2013), is the first to combine evolutionary and distributional
data for most living species of birds, mammals, and amphibians.