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Heather M. Campbell R.L. Blinn & Andrew R. Deans “Profiling and Improving Alcohol Collections: an Evaluation of Current Practices”

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Presentation on theme: "Heather M. Campbell R.L. Blinn & Andrew R. Deans “Profiling and Improving Alcohol Collections: an Evaluation of Current Practices”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Heather M. Campbell R.L. Blinn & Andrew R. Deans “Profiling and Improving Alcohol Collections: an Evaluation of Current Practices”

2 In this talk... North Carolina Insect Museum A profiling system for the alcohol collection. Discuss current practices and institutional benchmarks

3 NC State Insect Museum

4 Collection established in the 1950’s, by Zeno P. Metcalf 3 generations of Museum Director, Hemiptera systematists. Large holdings of Sternorrhyncha and Auchenorrhyncha Theodore B. Mitchell Massive contributions to Anthophila holdings “The Bees of the Eastern United States” Zeno P. Metcalf T.B. Mitchell

5 Present day... Current Director, Andrew R. Deans Parasitic wasp systematics! Emphasis on informatics NC State Insect Museum GigaPan Website Blog Andrew R. Deans

6 NC State Insect Museum Due to past curators’ focus on pinned and slide mounted specimens the alcohol collection has received little attention. Important holdings Aquatic Invertebrates Pyralidae

7 Development of the Profiling System Why profile a collection? Existing Profile Systems Evaluated profiling regime used for NC State Insect Museum pinned collection (adapted from A&M) Smithsonian (NMNH) Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Being a first year grad student I wanted to put my “mark on things” so I decided to make my own profiling system By customizing the INHS profiling method

8 Scoring Regime 1 Indicator0 = triage1 = problematic2 = substandard3 = acceptable4 = ideal conservation status Specimen damaged irreparably, container dry, specimen desiccated Specimen damage, fluid level low (does not cover specimen), fluid dark. Low pH (4.5 or below) Specimen intact Fluid level low (covers specimen) or dark Specimen intact Fluid topped up and clear or color not caused by acidification or tannins. ? processing state n/a Stored as bulk, unprocessed sampling, e.g., in Whirlpacs or jars Unsorted field sample, rinsed, stored in clean EtOH Sorted into proper containers with locality info Fully curated: sorted, locality and det labels. Databased? container condition Glass container broken, cork stopper Stopper cracked, broken, disintegrating; jar seals missing or degraded, rubber gaskets Hardened but intact stoppers, metal jar lids or non-polyethylene seals Good quality stoppers in vials, bail-topped jars with polyethylene gaskets or have polypropylene lids Screw-top vials, shell vials with cotton stopper with in bail-topped jars rack Vials loose on shelf, not in vial rack {?} Assorted vial rack types with no expansion space or proper labels Assorted vial rack types, properly labeled Current foam racks, properly labeled with expansion space {UNSURE} label condition label missing/ crumbling labels faded or illegible labels partially faded, laser-printed in fluid or on non-archival paper {how is this determined reliably?} labels legible, printed in pencil or with archival ink, labels size not standard printed with non-bleeding archival paper and ink, {standard size?} identification level n/a all specimens undetermined, no taxonomic classification assigned or unsorted specimens determined to order or family specimens determined to genus or family specimens determined to species data quality data are in codes or missing entirely some data missing but can be inferred; containers lack det labels all data fields are complete for all groups localities fully georeferenced digitization n/ano computerizationspecimens partially databased using Mx specimens fully databased and georeferenced using Mx fully databased {and imaged ?}

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10 Back to the drawing board…

11 Scoring Regime 2 Indicator0 = triage = ideal conservation status Specimen destroyed, container dry, specimen desiccated Specimen damaged, fluid level low (not covering specimen), fluid too dark to see specimen or label. pH 4.5 or below Specimen intact Fluid level low (covers specimen) and dark Fluid level low (covers specimen) and clear Specimen intact Fluid topped up and clear or color not due to acidification container condition Glass container broken Stopper cracked, broken, disintegrating; jar seals missing or degraded, rubber gaskets cork stopper Hardened or swollen but intact stoppers, metal jar lids or non- polyethylene seals Stoppers that are not swollen or hardened, bail-topped jars with polyethylene gaskets or have polypropylene lids with liners Screw-top vials, shell vials with cotton stopper with in bail- topped jars rack Vials loose on shelf, not in vial rack Assorted vial rack types with no expansion space or proper labels Current foam racks, properly labeled More stream-lined rack {metal rack?}, properly labeled with expansion space processing state n/a Stored as bulk, unprocessed sample, e.g., in Whirlpacs or jars Unsorted field sample, rinsed, stored in clean EtOH, with locality label Taxa sorted into proper containers with locality info Fully curated: sorted, locality and det labels. Databased Databsed and Imaged label & data quality label missing data are in codes/ some data missing labels faded or illegible/ crumbling labels partially faded or showing signs of bleeding labels legible, printed in pencil or with archival ink printed with non- bleeding ink on archival paper (labels size not standard) printed with non- bleeding ink on archival paper (labels standard size) identification level n/aunsortedundeterminedspecimens determined to order or family specimens determined to genus or family specimens determined to species

12 Results Number of Shelves Score

13 Evaluation of Scoring Regime Would this regime translate to other collections? Is a shelf too large of a profiling unit? Disproportionately skewed toward the negative We were unable to take into account the positive aspects of the collection Perhaps rack would be a good middle ground Still a valuable tool for showing improvement.

14 Opportunities for improvement Cork stoppers!!! Rubber gaskets Racks Swollen stoppers Light exposure!!!! Low pH=high acidity Unsorted bulk samples Metal lids

15 An oral tradition… Robert Boyle first discovered specimens could be preserved in alcohol in the 1600’s Techniques for preparation and care are steeped in tradition. In the absence of rigorous analysis, we lack the historical data to resolve issues

16 Paradox How do we stop the natural process of decay without altering the nature of the specimen?

17 Current Ideal Alcohol concentration: 70-80% (for storage, not DNA) Alcohol pH: 6-7 Specimens housed in screw-top glass vials or bale-top jars with shell vials stoppered with polyethylene stoppers Photos taken by David Furth, Smithsonian NMNH

18 Current Ideal Explosion proof cabinets Consistent temperature and relative humidity in collection space Archival Racks

19 We want to transition from Here...There...

20 Let’s discuss Has anyone established benchmarks for their alcohol collection? Management plans Profiling Systems: profile unit, is profiling worth while Storage methods: Identify high use areas? Active collection/ longterm storage Bulk vial systems Individual vial system Is there a flexible system? Identify high use areas Bulk Alcohol Samples Are we dealing with a “toxic soup”?

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22 Thank you Tanner Stanfield Lab mates Trish and Andrew for emotional support David Furth for photographs NSF for previous funding, grant # DBI


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