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Natural History Collections

The Daniel Smiley Research Center (DSRC) – Mohonk Preserve’s conservation science unit – is recognized nationally and beyond for its extensive collection of long-term research data, including 86 years of natural and cultural history observations, over 120 years of daily weather data, 60,000 physical items, 9,000 photographs, and research library. Of those physical items, there are over 3,000 herbarium specimens, 139 mammal specimens, 107 bird specimens, 140 butterfly specimens, 400 arthropod specimens, and over 10,000 index cards with handwritten and/or typed natural history observations. Some cards contain a single entry but most contain multiple entries, meaning the total number of data points is much higher. The data and natural history collections support the Preserve’s land management and stewardship activities and our educational programming. The collections are also frequently cited in research on climate change, biodiversity, bird migration, and human impact on the environment.

DSRC staff are working to digitize the collections by producing high resolution images of the specimens and index cards, transcribing label and card data, and uploading the information to online, open access data repositories. Digitizing the collections and making them available via multiple online portals will help us to support new research on a variety of scientific topics, including phenology and species response to climate change and variations in land use over time, and demographic information about species of conservation concern. The project will help the DSRC to improve access to the collections.  

Banner photo by Christy Belardo