When we set up a Google Scholar profile for the collection about a year ago (see a note on this here and our methods in creating it here), we began to pay more attention to publications that had cited articles that the bird collection had directly contributed to in some way. You might think of these as second-generation contributions accumulating downstream from the direct use of this collection. Usually, these once-removed, downstream uses are papers on familiar subjects, contributions to the science of birds or to evolutionary biology and zoology.
But imagine our delight to come across a wonderful paper by Dr. Debby Herbenick and colleagues entitled “Erect Penile Length and Circumference Dimensions of 1,661 Sexually Active Men in the United States”.
Our favorite open house event is from 4-7 p.m. on Halloween evening. Everyone has loads of fun, and lots of people come through the lab to see what we do here. This year we had 887 visitors to the Museum, and it seemed like every one of them came in to see us (in costume) turn dead birds into museum specimens. Here are just a few of the memorable moments…
Thanks to early Museum Research Apprenticeship program (MRAP) student and world-class volunteer Barbara Logan, we kept up our weekly “skinning night” throughout the summer. And so it was with a considerable head of steam that we rolled on into the fall semester, adding five MRAP students to the fun. Preparing bird specimens and studying the morphology, anatomy, and other amazing attributes of birds is wonderfully stimulating. With MRAP students and volunteers, we’re preserving the birds of the present for the scientific research and education of the future. And we’re having a lot of fun in the process! If birds aren’t the most exciting things to study in the world, we missed the memo.
Brandi Ringgenberg prepares a Black-footed Albatross specimen
We house and oversee the development and use of the State bird collection, and this collection’s growth has severely overtaxed our capacity to properly house specimens. For example, our skeleton collection, which requires less stringent conditions for preservation, is largely inaccessible, and we’ve been forced to temporarily put lesser-used portions of the skin collection in plastic-wrapped cardboard boxes salted with mothballs because our specimen cabinets are too full to hold any more. Our taxonomic sorting began to get rather blurred some time ago as we crammed skins into every available space. As a rather heavily used research collection, this lack of appropriate space is a severe problem.
Check out our note in Nature on how Small collections make a big impact and the UAM Birds Google Scholar profile upon which it is based.
The origin of the idea was a mental crossing of two wires: Mitt Romney’s oft-played comment “Corporations are people, my friend,” and our annual update of publications supported by the collection.