WREN - Wester Ross Environment Network

Biological Recording: What is the role of National Museums Scotland?

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Recording the distribution of species is not only a way of satisfying our curiosity about the natural world but it has become vital for understanding change in our environment. One of the ways natural science collections contribute is by housing voucher specimens (a representative of a species used in a study or survey) which can be used to confirm the accuracy of a particular record.

The Invertebrate Biology section at National Museums of Scotland is responsible for nearly 1,000,000 invertebrate specimens - one of the largest collections of its kind in the UK. Our collection includes marine, freshwater and terrestrial animals and (excluding insects) covers all major invertebrate groups from simple organisms such as sponges and jellyfish to more complex organisms including crabs, lobsters, snails, clams and starfish.

Our oldest specimens were collected during Lord Byron’s expedition on HMS Blonde in 1826. Subsequent acquisitions were dominated by collections from global explorers and pioneers of modern marine biology such as Thomas Henry Huxley (Rattlesnake, 1856), Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (Challenger, 1872-1876) and Sir William Speirs Bruce (Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904).

Our focus is now on developing our NE Atlantic holdings with particular emphasis on the Scottish marine fauna – there are approximately 25,000 species of invertebrate living in Scotland’s seas! By collaborating with organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Association for Marine Science, universities, environmental consultancies and volunteer recorders our scientifically important collections and voucher specimens have increased significantly in recent years. All will contribute to a permanent and accessible archive of Scotland’s biodiversity at National Museums Scotland for generations to come.

If you would like access to the collection, recently transferred to a brand new facility at the National Museums Collection Centre, please contact Fiona Ware, Curator of Invertebrate Biology, at f.ware@nms.ac.uk.

By Dr Fiona Ware

Dr Fiona Warer and Dr Sankurie Pye will be leading a Crustaceans and Molluscs Workshop for the Highland Seashore Project on the 13th June. To find out more go to:http://www.highlandbiodiversity.com/seashore.asp

WREN would like to thank the following organisations for their support:
Scottish Natural Heritage
The European Agriculture fund for Rural Development. Europe investing in rural areas
The Highland Council
The Scottish Government

Tom Forrest (Chairman) chair@wr-en.co.uk

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