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EVALUATING NATURAL HISTORY
COLLECTIONS USE IN ONE
UNIVERSITY MUSEUM
Bethany Abrahamson
Museum of Southwestern Biology
Univ...
OUTLINE


Analyzing use of natural
history collections
(NHCs) through time
Challenges of analysis
 Metrics


Methods an...
A NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT NATURAL
HISTORY COLLECTIONS


Collections are important, people want to know
Funding groups and a...
ANALYSIS
Quantifying NHC
impact on science
 Patterns
 Change over time
 An exploratory
study


Figure Courtesy of MSB ...
WHY STUDY COLLECTIONS FROM THE
MUSEUM’S PERSPECTIVE?
Explore measures of NHC impact
 Make collections (and collections re...
CASE STUDY:
MUSEUM OF SOUTHWESTERN BIOLOGY
University of New Mexico
 4,500,000++ specimens
 “Regional”, major
holdings f...
CHALLENGES OF NHC ANALYSIS: COMPARING
ARTHROPODS TO VERTEBRATES AND BEYOND….
Different collections research applications
...
PUBLICATIONS
Journal articles, books, gray literature (reports, etc.)
 What fields of study specimens are impacting

LOANS
Temporary or long-term loans, transfers of tissues
 What species are used, where they were collected

EXPECTED TRENDS


Publications


New, innovative studies increase, traditional uses decrease?






Systematics?

Col...
PUBLICATIONS


1,387 publications over time (1940-May 2013)


From collection managers, journal databases

Titles, journ...
KEYWORDS
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Biogeography
Conservation
Disease
Ecology
Evolution
Genetics
Life History
Morpho...
LOANS
1,784 loan records over time (1968-May 2013)
 54,509+ specimens loaned
 Locations (state/province) recorded


Fig...
Year
2011

2008

2005

2002

1999

1996

1993

1990

1987

1984

1981

1978

1975

1972

1969

1966

1963

1960

1957

195...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?

Evolution
(Spearman
Signed-Rank, ns)
 Morphology (ns)




Decreasing


...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?
Birds
 Increasing
Evolution (ns)
 Genetics (ns)

Birds
Proportion of Keywo...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?
Fishes
Proportion of Keywords v. Decade

Fishes
 Increasing
Conservation
(P...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?
Herbarium
Proportion of Keywords v. Decade

Herbarium
 Increasing
Ecology (...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?
Mammals
Proportion of Keywords v. Decade

Mammals
 Increasing



Decreasin...
WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY
OVER TIME?




Evolution (P<0.05)

Decreasing


Morphology
(P<0.05)

Reptiles and Am...
HOW DOES THE ARTHROPODS DIVISION
COMPARE TO OTHERS OVERALL?

Proportion Keyword: Systematics

Proportion of Keyword “Syste...
DO CURATORS AFFECT THEIR PARTICULAR
AREAS OF RESEARCH?
Proportion of Keyword Before/After Curator Hire
0.6

Proportion

0....
DO THE PROPORTION OF LOANS OF
SPECIMENS FROM NM CHANGE OVER TIME?
Most of the top
species loaned were
species that can be
...
ARE SPECIMENS FROM NM BEING LOANED MORE
THAN OTHERS?
Proportion of Specimens Collected in NM
0.9
0.8
0.7

Proportion

0.6
...
CONCLUSIONS: PUBLICATIONS
Growth of papers over time
 Arthropods:
Evolution, Morphology (not
Life History)


Much yet to...
CONCLUSIONS: LOANS
Top species found in NM
 Overall decrease in NM
loans (Arthropods: even
less)
 Large regional collect...
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?


Publications
Good metric for NHC
relation to science
 Compiling
publications lists:
difficult, but ...
THERE IS MUCH (AND MORE) TO LEARN FROM
COLLECTIONS ANALYSIS


Step 1: What I plan to do









Parametric tests
E...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Advisors




Collection managers




K. Miller, T. Lowrey, J. Cook
D. Lightfoot, S. Brantley, A. J...
QUESTIONS?
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Abrahamson ecn2013 evaluating_naturalhistorycollectionuse

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Abrahamson ecn2013 evaluating_naturalhistorycollectionuse

  1. 1. EVALUATING NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS USE IN ONE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM Bethany Abrahamson Museum of Southwestern Biology University of New Mexico Advisors: Kelly Miller, Tim Lowrey, Joe Cook
  2. 2. OUTLINE  Analyzing use of natural history collections (NHCs) through time Challenges of analysis  Metrics  Methods and Results  Discussion  Conclusions  What we can learn  The next step 
  3. 3. A NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS  Collections are important, people want to know Funding groups and administrators  Other scientists  The public   The digital revolution   Current ways of informing about NHC importance   “Museums are for taxonomy”  Diversification of use Reviews, editorials A new method: Analysis
  4. 4. ANALYSIS Quantifying NHC impact on science  Patterns  Change over time  An exploratory study  Figure Courtesy of MSB Arthropods
  5. 5. WHY STUDY COLLECTIONS FROM THE MUSEUM’S PERSPECTIVE? Explore measures of NHC impact  Make collections (and collections records) more useful to researchers and analysts  Figure courtesy of MSB Arthropods
  6. 6. CASE STUDY: MUSEUM OF SOUTHWESTERN BIOLOGY University of New Mexico  4,500,000++ specimens  “Regional”, major holdings from American Southwest, Central/South America, and worldwide  Grown in size and scope of collections since early 1990s   Six of ten divisions:       Arthropods! Birds Fishes Herbarium Mammals Reptiles and Amphibians
  7. 7. CHALLENGES OF NHC ANALYSIS: COMPARING ARTHROPODS TO VERTEBRATES AND BEYOND…. Different collections research applications  Different collection management methods  Different curator priorities  However, collections do have metrics that are common across divisions… Figure courtesy of MSB Arthropods
  8. 8. PUBLICATIONS Journal articles, books, gray literature (reports, etc.)  What fields of study specimens are impacting 
  9. 9. LOANS Temporary or long-term loans, transfers of tissues  What species are used, where they were collected 
  10. 10. EXPECTED TRENDS  Publications  New, innovative studies increase, traditional uses decrease?    Systematics? Collection-specific Loans Loans of local specimens predominate  MSB growth = increased loans of non-NM specimens over time 
  11. 11. PUBLICATIONS  1,387 publications over time (1940-May 2013)  From collection managers, journal databases Titles, journal titles, and article keywords searched  Search phrases  Keyword Groups (Keywords)  Some publications received more than one keyword  Simplified N-gram/content analysis  Figure Courtesy of Tom Giermakowski
  12. 12. KEYWORDS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Biogeography Conservation Disease Ecology Evolution Genetics Life History Morphology Systematics Variation Search phrases “speciation” “evol” “adapt” “Female reproductive tract form drives the evolution of complex sperm morphology.”
  13. 13. LOANS 1,784 loan records over time (1968-May 2013)  54,509+ specimens loaned  Locations (state/province) recorded  Figure Courtesy of Tom Giermakowski
  14. 14. Year 2011 2008 2005 2002 1999 1996 1993 1990 1987 1984 1981 1978 1975 1972 1969 1966 1963 1960 1957 1954 1951 1947 1944 1940 Number of Publications PUBLICATIONS Publication Titles Produced Each Year 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
  15. 15. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME? Evolution (Spearman Signed-Rank, ns)  Morphology (ns)   Decreasing  Life History (P<0.001) 0.12 Proportion Keyword Arthropods  Increasing Arthropods Proportion of Keywords v. Decade 0.1 0.08 0.06 Evolution Life History Morphology 0.04 0.02 0 Decade
  16. 16. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME? Birds  Increasing Evolution (ns)  Genetics (ns) Birds Proportion of Keywords v. Decade 0.3  Decreasing   Disease (ns) Variation (ns) Proportion Keyword  0.25 0.2 Disease Evolution Genetics Variation 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 2010-2013 Decade
  17. 17. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME? Fishes Proportion of Keywords v. Decade Fishes  Increasing Conservation (P<0.05)  Genetics (ns) 0.7  Decreasing  Ecology (P<0.05) Proportion Keyword  0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 Conservation Ecology Genetics 0.2 0.1 0 Decade
  18. 18. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME? Herbarium Proportion of Keywords v. Decade Herbarium  Increasing Ecology (ns)  Morphology (ns) 0.14  Proportion Keyword 0.12 0.1 0.08 Ecology Morphology 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 2000-2009 2010-2013 Decade
  19. 19. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME? Mammals Proportion of Keywords v. Decade Mammals  Increasing  Decreasing  Life History (P<0.05) 0.3 Proportion Keyword Genetics (P<0.05)  Systematics (P<0.05)  0.35 0.25 0.2 Life History 0.15 Genetics Systematics 0.1 0.05 0 Decade
  20. 20. WHICH KEYWORDS CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OVER TIME?   Evolution (P<0.05) Decreasing  Morphology (P<0.05) Reptiles and Amphibians Proportion of Keywords v. Decade 0.12 Proportion Keyword Reptiles and Amphibians  Increasing 0.1 0.08 0.06 Evolution Morphology 0.04 0.02 0 Decade
  21. 21. HOW DOES THE ARTHROPODS DIVISION COMPARE TO OTHERS OVERALL? Proportion Keyword: Systematics Proportion of Keyword “Systematics” vs. Decade 1.2 1 Arthropods 0.8 Birds 0.6 Fishes 0.4 Herbarium 0.2 Mammals 0 Reptiles and Amphibians Decade
  22. 22. DO CURATORS AFFECT THEIR PARTICULAR AREAS OF RESEARCH? Proportion of Keyword Before/After Curator Hire 0.6 Proportion 0.5 0.4 0.3 Before After 0.2 0.1 0 Systematics Arthropods Evolution Birds Evolution Fishes Biogeography Conservation Mammals Rept. and Amph. Research Interests
  23. 23. DO THE PROPORTION OF LOANS OF SPECIMENS FROM NM CHANGE OVER TIME? Most of the top species loaned were species that can be found in NM.  The proportion of loans of NM specimens have decreased over time. Proportion Loans with NM specimens, Total Museum Proportion  1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 Proportion NM 0.3 0.2 0.1 R² = 0.657 0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 Year
  24. 24. ARE SPECIMENS FROM NM BEING LOANED MORE THAN OTHERS? Proportion of Specimens Collected in NM 0.9 0.8 0.7 Proportion 0.6 0.5 Specimens in Collection 0.4 0.3 Specimens Loaned 0.2 0.1 0 Arthropods Birds Fishes Herbarium Division Mammals Reptiles and Amphibians
  25. 25. CONCLUSIONS: PUBLICATIONS Growth of papers over time  Arthropods: Evolution, Morphology (not Life History)  Much yet to be discovered  Arthropods leads Systematics  Curator    Age, size of collection are likely other factors Trends toward new uses; away from traditional uses (except systematics!)
  26. 26. CONCLUSIONS: LOANS Top species found in NM  Overall decrease in NM loans (Arthropods: even less)  Large regional collections are not only good as repositories for local specimens but also for specimens collected elsewhere   Curator influence Figure courtesy of kellymillerlab.com
  27. 27. WHAT CAN WE LEARN?  Publications Good metric for NHC relation to science  Compiling publications lists: difficult, but important  Keyword phrases pros and cons   Loans Patchy, unwieldy format  A kind of publication   What can arthropods collections do?  Digitization   Tracking Publications  Search engines, Changing journal policies
  28. 28. THERE IS MUCH (AND MORE) TO LEARN FROM COLLECTIONS ANALYSIS  Step 1: What I plan to do       Parametric tests Effect of cultural trends More datasets Across museums, museum types, science overall Social science content analyses Step 2: What we can take away Fill a gap in knowledge for future researchers  Use in other museums 
  29. 29. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  Advisors   Collection managers   K. Miller, T. Lowrey, J. Cook D. Lightfoot, S. Brantley, A. Johnson, P. Tonne, A. Snyder, J. Dunnam, and T. Giermakowski, D. McDonald Assistance   R. Mallis, N. Gilkey, M. Howland-Davis, S. Brantley, Y. Wei Several anonymous reviewers This project will be completed May 2014 for a Master of Science degree in Biology.
  30. 30. QUESTIONS?

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