In December of 2016, we were awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to clean, image, database and rehouse the dry Cnidaria collection of about 4000 specimens at the American Museum of Natural History in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. The dry Cnidaria collection dates back to the late 1800s. Although only recently Dr. Fani Rodriguez was hired as Curator of Cnidaria, specimens were collected by researchers such as Crocker, Emerson and Miner that are now housed in our collection. Corals and coral reefs were once abundant, but global episodic elevated ocean temperatures, increased ocean acidification due to increased burning of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic activities have led to alarming coral population declines in recent years. Our goal with this project is to rehouse our historic collection in state-of-the-art cabinets, and to image and database the collection so that the coral is protected for years to come and the data is available to researchers.
The participants of the project include project intern Emily Rezes, Lily Berniker, Scientific Assistant in IZ for the Cnidaria collection, volunteers Jan Stenzel and Ann Davis, Chris Johnson, IZ Curatorial Associate and Fani Rodriguez, Curator-in-Charge. We are all very excited to be working on the project and will keep you updated on our progress. It is a complicated one, as specimens and cabinets had to be moved out of the collection space, the collection space tiled, the specimens tracked before we could really even begin to start the process. Tomorrow our new Delta cabinets arrive! Once the Delta installers, who also make the cabinets, install the cabinets, everything will become much easier!!