What are some of the ways that researchers use the collections? well there are a variety of different research projects that have used our collections and that's only a tiny fraction of the ways in which researchers use natural history collections all over the country and all over the world. Some of the specific research projects that researchers have used specimens from our collections in the last few years are to understand how you might think about the variation of particular species. If you just think of humans, we don't all look the same. There's a lot of variation in how humans look, and the same is true of bird species, or the same is true of mammal specied or the same is true of fish species. A lot of researchers are trying understand, or are really interested in understanding, how variation in their particular species is partitioned across the landscape, and whether that might relate to changes in environment, or to changes in how humans have impacted landscapes. So there are number of projects focused on both birds and mammals in which researchers are really interested in understanding variation, and how that is partitioned, or how that is patterned across the landscapes . And they use our specimens because there aren't a lot of specimen from Wyoming, from the rocky mountain region in general. And so we set up this really interesting place in.. for this just the geography of North America, that actually allows us to serve researchers from all over the country, and all over the world. So we have researchers interested in grey jays, we have researchers interested in marmets, we have researchers interested in the whole host of small mammals that are using our specimens to try to understand patterns of variation. We also have researchers that are really interested in thinking about evolution on on different time scales and have been using our specimens, and skeletons of our specimens, to try to understand how gross morphology in bird skeletons have changed across time. They're actually comparing our skeletal material with skeletal material collected from fossilized specimens. And so, perhaps over hundred of thousands, or millions of years, to understand how bird species have changed over those time scales. So there's a whole host of different research projects that our specimens have been involved with.
How do natural history collections help us understand the world we live in. This is a really great question, and I think it's a really critical component to natural history collections and the value they bring. We can think of a variety of different ways in which natural history collections help us understand the world that we live in, but I'd like to focus on just a couple that have really important direct impacts. One of which is a pretty well-known story, and the second of which might be less well known. Many people are probably familiar with the effects of DDT. DDT was widely used many decades ago as a broad scale insecticide. Of course now we have lots of problems... mosquitoes and other insect pests carry diseases that can directly affect humans and that of course is a really important public health issue. But DDT actually had a devastating effect on bird populations, What happened was that DDT would bioaccumulate, that is it would build up in the tissue of aquatic organism including fish, and then bird species that ate a lot of fish, things like osprey, peregrine falcons, pelicans, they would start to build up really high levels of DDT in their tissues. And then what would happen is that DDT would actually reduce the thickness of egg shells. To the point that when birds that had really high levels of DDT in their systems, when they lay eggs, when the males and females were incubating the eggs, they would actually crush, the eggs would break under the weight of the parent. And it took a long time for researchers to try to figure out what was causing the reductions in egg shell thickness, why this was such a problem. But what happened was this researchers started to notice that yes, these eggshells felt and seem, quite thin. And they took the egg shells that they collected from nests of osprey and nests of pelicans. Then they went back to eggs that had been collected prior to the widespread use of DDT that were in natural history collections and they compared the thicknesses and they said, you know what? This really is a significant and substantial difference in the thickness of these eggshells, post widespread use of DDT. And those data, that realization led to the banning, or was part of the reason that DDT was banned from widespread use. And a lot of those species that were pretty severely effected have rebounded considerably. Brown pelicans are no longer on the endangered species list. Peregrine falcons, at least here in North America, have rebounded tremendously. Ospreys, we see them quite commonly in places where a few decades ago they were really really uncommon. So having those eggshells, having those eggs in natural history collections prior to, that were collected prior to the use of DDT really helped understand what was happening with this insecticide and the negative impact was having on lots of bird species.
So another really... I think, really fascinating example of how using natural history museum specimens can actually have a direct impact on humans comes from a study that was published just a year or two ago. Black carbon is part of soot. It's an aerosol produced when organic matter isn't completely from combusted. So if you think think about fossil fuels, the burning of fossil fuels, black carbon is one of the byproducts that can be produced when burning fossil fuels. Here in North America, in the United States, in the manufacturing belt. Think of service Chicago, Michigan, Detroit, Pittsburgh, many decades ago a tremendous amount of black carbon was produced. And at that time it was actually a real public health hazard. Recently it's less of a public health hazard here in the United States, but it can still be an important problem in other parts of the world. And because black carbon has been an important public health hazard here in North America, and continues to be elsewhere in the world, there's a lot of interest in building models of the distribution of black carbon deposition in the atmosphere. It turns out that is also an important component of climate change. So understanding and modeling, again, the distribution of of black carbon in the atmosphere is really important. For a long time one of the best ways that we had the model this was to look at consumption of coal in these factories in Chicago, and Detroit, and Pittsburgh, and places like that, combined with some estimates as to the efficiency of the factories that were using coal, and build models based on that. Well, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, a few years ago started to look at museum specimens and really try to understand whether or not we can use museum specimens to get a more holistic depiction, more holistic picture, of how much black carbon was being deposited into the atmosphere. And anyone who spent a lot of time and museum collections, and if you've looked at series of, in this case bird specimens, that were collected say, beginning in the 1800's up until the 1950's 1960's, will notice that some specimens are really sooty, and really dark. And the reason that they are sooty and dark is that they actually have soot in their feathers. So what he figured out was that he could actually quantify the amount of soot in bird feathers, and use that to improve our models of how much black carbon was in the atmosphere at any given time. And the reason that including the data from these bird specimens makes for an improved model, is that prior to the 1950s we were actually not very good at monitoring black carbon in the atmosphere. There were only a few monitoring stations and the data that was collected was somewhat limited. But these birds were collected from all over, and so the geographic distribution, the spatial distribution, from which these birds came with much broader than where we had these sensors. They also had been collected over a much longer time frame. So they allowed for a refinement of these models that are used to understand pollution, at a simple level, pollution in the atmosphere. By tracking, by using bird specimens in museum collections you can tracks the amount of soot in the atmosphere, and use that information to improve our understanding of polution, on to improve our understanding of of soot in in the environment. Which again, this can help us understand how things might change in the future, can impact our understanding of global health, and can impact our understanding of global climate change. A direct effect of using museum specimens. And you know when those museum specimens were initally collected people had no idea that they would be useful in understanding how soot deposition in the atmosphere changed over time.
Are there different types of specimens? There are, there are a variety of different types. For birds and mammals the traditional specimens type basically involves removing nearly all of the insides of the animal and then filling that empty body cavity with cotton or other cotton-type materials and then drying those specimen out such that they won't rot and that's one of the biggest reasons why we take out all the insides we want to make sure those specimens won't rot overtime. Because if they that obviously limits their utility. That's how we preserve most birds and mammals. Things like fish, and reptiles, and amphibians, often times or most of the time those are preserved and a fluid manner. So usually what that involves is, first, and lets just hink about fish for a second, first, a fish specimen might be injected with formalin or fixed using formalin, and that will preserve the insides of a fish. Once that specimen has been fixed, it's then stored long-term in ethanol. So, most birds and mammals are stored in a dry state, fish, amphibians, and reptiles stored in a in a wet collection, once fixed, kept in jars full of ethanol. Those methods have been kind of honed over the decades and and even longer, and we know that they work really well in allowing us to preserve these specimens in a really high-quality state for hundreds of years.
[in the background] Interviewer: Are there archetypal specimens as well? Are there specimens that represent a specific species, in some museums, somewhere?
There are. Yeah, so those are exactly.. they're there a whole variety of type specimens, and there are... so if you really want to get into it there are different terms for the different types of specimens. And those type specimens are typically the specimens that were used in the original description of a species. So there may be a sort of... one type specimen. Then there are other related type specimens that might be part of the series that were collected at the same time, in the same place. In many instances those specimens are kept in highly secure facilities, even more secure than a normal kind of research facility. Especially for things that for whatever reason are really high profile. Those specimens are often even isolated from a main research collection. But often times, or most of the time those specimens aren't different in any way than other specimens. They are not prepared differently or they're not in a different pose or or anything like that. They just happened to be the first ones, or, at least the ones that were used to describe a new species.
Many of the specimens in our collected quite old, how are these specimens relevant now? So our collections are actually quite old given how old the University of Wyoming is. We can talk about this little bit later, but to my knowledge the oldest specimen that we have was collected in 1886 which is 2 years before the University of Wyoming was actually founded in 1888. The question is how are they are they relevant today. While we touched on this a little bit in in answers to a couple of other questions we have already talked about, but, by understanding the past, by being able to reconstruct how things used to be, we can better understand both the present and better make predictions for the future. If you think about it, if we just have what things look like right now to predict the future we're limited. By incorporating specimen that were collected a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago in some museums in Europe for instance, we can use that information to build more robust models to better inform our predictions of what we think might happen in the future. And then the cool thing is we can actually go out, some time in the future, and test those predictions in and see how well we did. And it in turns out we'll probably be pretty wrong in some instances maybe a little bit better in other instances. But as we continue to keep collecting data, we can make those models and our predictions better. and always refine or understanding of the natural world and a whole host of different questions that might go along with... just trying to trying to understand the world around us. Again, using specimens to try to understand how pollution is deposited in our atmosphere, how carbon is deposited our atmosphere, has been a really cool discovery. One that only happened recently! Another great example is using stable isotopes. so when an animal eats something it incorporates isotopes: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, into its growing tissues, so, this can be internal organs, but in terms, of birds and mammals you can think of feathers or hair. So specimens, excuse me, animals actually incorporate those isotopes into their feathers if we are talking about birds. A while ago there was this really great study that was publihsed that was interested in understanding population declines in marbled murrelets. So marbled murrelets, breed along the Pacific northwest coast here in North America and they've been declining for quite some time, and there have been a lot hypothesis about why they are declining, but none of them quite seem to fit the entire picture. Well, what some researchers did, they went to museum collections and they actually plucked feathers from marbled murrelets that were collected in the 1880s. And they analyzed those feathers to try to understand what marbled murrelets we're eating in the 1880s and compare it to what marbled murrelets are eating today. And they figured out that 120 + years ago during the breeding season marbled murrelets were eating a lot of small fish. They really needed those fish to have enough energy to raise their young. Fast forward a hundred years that prey base, that small fishery that marbled murrelets were feeding on during the breeding season had almost entirely collapsed. So marbled murrelets were having to forage over much greater distances they were having to eat a lot of food that was less nutritious, that had less energy and they weren't able to provide enough energy for their young during the breeding season. The only way scientists were able to understand the change in diet over time was by using museum specimens that had been collected more than a hundred years prior to when those researchers were doing that work.
The University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates was formally established in 1894 by Wilbur Knight who was a geologist. It is my understanding that for one reason or another people would contact Dr Knight and ask him questions about the distribution of various mammal and bird species in Wyoming. And he didn’t know the answer. And so to help collect data to allow him to answer those questions he formally established the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates in 1894. Initially the specimen that he acquired were through donations from private collectors, people that had taxidermy mounts or just specimens that they had collected and prepared themselves that they then donated. But then very quickly the Dr. Knight hired an undergraduate here at the University of Wyoming. I believe in 1897, so just a couple of years after the museum was first founded. To begin to actively collect specimens throughout the state of Wyoming in a more formal and more systematic way. To start to build the collection, to understand the pattern of distribution of species throughout the state of Wyoming. So fast forward well over a hundred and twenty years and we now have over 15,000 specimens in the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates. And that includes mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, so all groups of vertebrates are represented in our collection. We have more mammals than any of the other groups, but because I'm an ornithologist the bird collection over the last eight or nine years has been the fastest growing component of the mueum.
What kind of documentation is collected with each specimen? This is another really good question. We recognize that collecting a specimen for scientific purposes is not something to be taken lightly. And because of that we really try to maximize the utility of every single specimen that is collected, every single specimen that is prepared and then deposited into our research collections. So at a very minimum, we are interested in the date that that specimen was collected, that individual was collected, and the locality. And as much detailed information about the locality as possible. So for instance, lets just say, unfortunately a bird hits your window at your house and dies. You can actually pick that up, and bring it in to us, and we can put that into our collections. In that case at a bare minimum we would want to know the date you found it and your address. That gives us the best information of the locality. You could say for instance, well, it was found in Laramie, which is helpful, much more helpful than saying it was found in Wyoming, but as detailed information about locality is the best situation for us. Beyond that we will take things like how much the individual weighed? Was it a male or a female? What is the reproductive status of that individual? We can keep what is inside it’s stomach, that information can be really helpful too, What was it eating at the time that it died? We can… We also take information on, if we know it, the general type of habitat that that individual was found in, where it was collected. Was it found in the forest, was it collected in an open area, what types of vegetation are around, including if you know it, the species of plants. Perhaps you might take other kinds of environmental variables, environmental data that could be useful in describing the habitat that that individual was collected in. for birds we might collect data on molt. So if you think about birds, they replace their feathers, And not all bird species replace their feathers the same way at the same time, and so we take information on “oh, it looks like it's molting it’s flight feathers it looks like it’s molting these body feathers… That information can be useful in a variety of different contexts. Beyond how much an individual weighs we might take data on whether or not it's fat whether or not it’s emaciated. That can tell us something about the health conditions of the bird, or can tell us the health conditions of whatever animal it is that we are preparing. if there's anything at all unusual. If we're preparing a specimen and it's filled with parasites will we might keep some of those parasites, we might take information on that if, you know, if animal has a broken limb that seems like it wasn't caused, you know, by running into a a window or getting hit by a car. We will take information on that. All of this could be useful, but what we try to do, again, is take as much information as possible, to save as many components of that individual, as possible, because we never know what information someone might want in the future. So we really try to maximize the amount of data that we keep from each and every individual to try to ensure that that specimen is as useful as possible, now and decades into the future.
I would say that there are three primary ways in which we acquire new specimens. One is through Salvage. That is either folks affiliated with the museum, or just members of the public that know about us, that we have talked with in the past, you find, you know you find a dead bird, perhaps it hit your window. perhaps it got hit by a car and you found it on the side of the road, maybe it was killed by a cat you find a dead animal, dead rodent dead bird, whatever it is, you pick that up and and bring it to us. We have all the necessary permits to accept those donations. Again, that's what we would call a salvaged individual, or a salvage specimen. Another way is through direct collecting and again this involves getting permits from a variety of different state and federal agencies but those permits allow us to go out and collect a small number of individuals, per species, in some location. Maybe in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Wherever, it could be here in the United States, it could be international, but those specimens are acquired through our direct efforts to actually go into into the field and collect specimens for the purpose of creating museum specimens. And then the third is kind of a mix of of those two mechanisms. That is, we might get donations from other museums throughout the United States. One of the things that we get a lot of salvaged specimens of here in Wyoming is great horned owls. Unfortunately great horned owls get hit by cars a lot, and so we get a lot of salvaged great horned owls. Other parts of country for whatever reason, maybe they don't have any great horned owls, but they might have a lot of something else that we don't have a lot of or they may have been salvaged by members of the public. So we will get specimens typically through trade. So we work out deals with other museums. Mostly in the United States, where we will send them some specimens from Wyoming and they will send us specimens from where ever they are located. That's really good way for us to build our collection from places where it's not easy for us to go do our own work.
What does the process of adding a specimen look like and what are the steps involved? Well once we acquire a specimen either through our own collecting efforts, or through someone picking up a salvage and giving it to us, Basically the first step, if we are thinking about a bird or a mammal, is to open that animal up, usually it through an incision through the chest and into the belly region, and very carefully removing all of the insides. Basically all the insides get taken out and we, as we were talking about earlier, we collect a lot of data when we are taking out the internal organs of an individual. Some of those internal organs, or at least parts of those internal organs, we keep tissue samples of a variety of internal organs that can be useful for genetic work, or stable isotope work, or all kinds of different analysis. Again, we might keep stomach contents, which is useful for determining what that individual is eating. Once the inside, once all the internal organs are removed, then we fill up, and stuff that specimen with cotton. A lot and a lot of times there may be other materials that help keep that organism in a good posture. A lot fo times there may be little dowels, or toothpicks, that take the place of bones or give it some internal structure, that make that specimen, or allow that specimen to be preserved in a more robust way.
After the Specimen is stuffed and sewn back up,it's drying. We just leave it out, bascially on the countertop to dry for a week or so. Once dried we then freeze all of our specimens before they get deposited into our research collection. The reason that we freeze the specimens is that a we want to make sure that there are no insects hiding out in the fur, or hiding out in the feathers of a bird or mammal. Once that specimen gets put into the main collections there are insects that will eat the feathers and the fur in preserved specimens, so by freezing individual specimens before putting them into the main collections, kills those insect pests that might be a problem later on. Then, once once a specimen has been deposited into the main collection, a really important step is getting all of the data from that specimen uploaded into our online databases, because until a specimen is in our online database is the only people that know it exists are people here at the University of Wyoming. We want the entire research community to know about the material that we have. So they can use it and whatever research project they are interested in, but before that can happen we need to make sure that the are uploaded into our online data portals.
What is the oldest specimen housed in the collection, and what do we know about it? Well the oldest specimen that I know of was collected I believe in 1886, in May of 1886, by someone, Charles Carr I believe his name was, and I don't know very much about Charles Carr, other than that he published a magazine in Wisconsin that was called the Wisconsin Naturalist. And in this magazine they just documented what Critters were where in Wisconsin. So and so was trapping, and had these animals, in this county, on this date. And again, Charles Carr was a publisher of the Wisconsin Naturalist, and on May 30th in 1886 he collected a yellow-headed blackbird in or near, Madison, Wisconsin, and somehow that specimen ended up in our collection. I don't know how, it's the only specimen we have collected by this gentleman. That's the extent of my knowledge of that specimen. but I believe it's the oldest. It’s the oldest one for which we're certain of the date. We may have specimens that are older, but the date is uncertain. We're not completely sure of when some specimens were collected.
We also have a couple of really fascinating specimens they were collected a little bit later than that. In 1897. And they were collected by Joseph Grinnell. And Joseph Grinnell was an amazing zoologist, an amazing biologist, who was the first director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley. And when Joseph Grinnell was 19 years old he was invited to go on this trip, to basically as I understand it, to basically check in on a variety of schools. Starting in Oregon and moving up the coast up into Alaska. And as part of that trip he basically got collect specimens, birds, mammals, whatever was along the way. And in June of 1897 he found himself in Sitka, Alaska. and even though this trip serving schools was finished, He was allowed to stay in Sitka, Alaska, and collect, mainly birds, but collect specimens for the entire summer, from mid-june through at least through mid-august, maybe even the end of August, and he collected hundreds of specimens, and as best I can tell all of those specimens with couple of exceptions are in the collections at Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. But somehow, some way we have three specimens that were collected in Sitka, Alaska in our collections. They are really incredible. Again, Joseph Grinnell was the first
director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. He's credited with basically developing a method for taking field notes called the Grinnellion method for taking field notes.
He was one of the first ecologists, one of the first biologists to really think about and coin this concept of a niche of these requirements, ecological requirements that a species needs. He published, in 1904 or 1906 a paper called the Ecological Niche of the California Thrasher or something like that in which he really developed this idea of the species niche. So to have specimens that Joseph Grinnell collected on his first collections trip outside of California where he was basically raised is really fascinating, and at some point it would be great to spend some time trying to figure out how a small number of specimens that Joseph Grinnell collected ended up in our collections here.
This is another really great question because like many areas, technology has really allowed us to extend the reach of our collections beyond the University of Wyoming, even beyond the city of Laramie, Beyond Southeast Wyoming. As I mentioned all of our specimens are eventually deposited in online databases and these online databases are easily searchable, easily accessible, by anyone, anywhere in the world. And so researchers, members of the public, anyone who wants to, can look in these online databases and they can look for specimens of their favorite critter, or maybe they want to know what specimens are available from a particular location at a particular time. And so our data are part of these efforts to try to increase accessibility of all of these museum specimens that are housed in collections all over the world. And so without the internet that would be really difficult to do. And so that’s one way that technology has allowed us to increase our reach, to basically show the entire world what we have here and then if there's something useful they can write us, they can email us, get in touch with us, and we can loan them materials for whatever their research questions might be. So that's really important, really is facilitated by online databases.
Another way that technology has really changed the value of museums and how those museum’s specimens are used is… and we haven't… we are a little bit behind on this effort, especially compared to say, the Geology Museum here on campus, that is basically creating… you can take 3D scans of specimens, and then you can, again put these scans up into online databases. and then people can go beyond just having access to data, they can actually see what specimens might look like, and start to get a more complete understanding of what specimens are present in a collection and whether or not those specimens might be useful for their particular research question, or they can be used for education or outreach activities. You might have a kid who is really interested in... you know tigers and what their skulls look like, but might be hard for that kid to go visit a natural history collection that has actual tiger skulls. But because museums are starting to create 3D models of their collections they can go online and actually look at and rotate a virtual tiger skull. and really start to see what that looks like, and, perhaps really peaks and curiosity, realty peak some interest in someone, somewhere.
And then the other kind of really important way that technology has increased the value or utility of museum specimens, is just how changes in technology allows us to extract information or extract data from specimens that we never thought was possible. So, for instance we talked a little about stable isotopes and stable isotope analysis: before, when specimens were even collected, 150 years ago, 200 years ago, 300 years ago in some instances, we did not have the technology to extract stable isotope data from those feathers or from that fur, but we do now. And so we can actually go back to these specimens that are hundreds of years old in some instances, and learn something new about them because we now have these new technologies that allow us to extract information from those specimens that wasn't possible when those specimens were collected. Another example along those lines is DNA. The structure of DNA wasn't described until the 1950s. But we can actually go back and extract DNA from specimens that are way older than that. Say a 150 years old, and we can use modern genetic techniques, again, to collect genetic data from specimens that were collected a hundred year before we had even described the genetic structure. So, this allows us to gain new insight into what things might have been like a hundred years ago, a hundred and fifty years ago because of advances in technology that allow us to access new data or learn new things from these very old specimens.
This is another really great question, and one that we're still trying to kind of wrap our heads around. And the reason for that is that for a long time there wasn't a formal management and curation of the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates collections. So undoubtedly there are publications that resulted from using those collection over the decades, but because there wasn't sort of, a formal accounting, we're trying to sort of sift through the literature slowly and surely, to try to say oh you know here is this paper published in 1982 in the Journal of Mammalogy, and that was about muskrats, and it used specimens from our collection, so there's another another publication. So, from a historical perspective we’re really still piecing that together, and that will take us for a really long time to fill in all those gaps. That being said, another really valuable component of having our data in these online data portals is that many of them are already built-up to track when publications come out that use data from these online databases. And so just using that we know that in the last couple years, since 2017, there has been close to 25 publications using data from the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates. And many of these are... there might be these large-scale meta-analysis that are interested in looking at changes in species distribution, or trying to understand what might happen under various climate change scenarios in the future. And so by having our data in these online databases we can contribute to these really broad scale, really global, research projects. A then, these databases again, they track the publication of this data. Just in the last couple years there have been upwards of 25 publications using data from our collections.
Does the museum collect field notes, or notebooks, or any other form of related documentation or objects? Yes! of course. Field notes are really, really important. Because a lot of times especially if you're out on a collecting trip. Imagine a situation where you might go to another country for instance, and you might spend weeks in the field. The field notes that accompany that trip can be really, really useful. Because for instance, in your field notebook, in your field notes you might record information on weather. That information doesn't go directly on the specimen tag, it doesn't go into our records that are directly associated with that specimen, but we can keep it as part of the larger metadata associated with the trip. It might be important to know if it was rainy a a lot of the time... That weather information can be really useful. Just other information that you might have in field notes too. You might be at a place and you might be collecting... say you're small mammal trapping in a place. Perhaps there is a species that you saw, that you encountered, but you never trapped it. and so you might have that information: on such and such a date we observe two individuals of this species but we never caught it. That can be really valuable information that is ancillary, or extra to the actual specimens that you brought back that became part of the museum collections. So those those field notes, that field data, can be really valuable and we of course accept all those data and all that information. And then there are other things, other artifacts or objects that we actually collect and preserve beyond just individual specmens. We mentioned eggs already, that could be one of them, and sometimes even in the case where eggs have hatched and it's just broken eggshell fragments, depending on the species, and location, that might be useful, and we might collect that stuff. Nests as well. Once nests have been fisihed or have been abandoned for one reason or another. we might collect those, and preserve those. There are a lot of interesting research questions that nests can be useful for. So yes, we also have objects that aren't, that weren't, once living animals.
How many people work at the Museum of Vertebrates? Right where we have two, two main staff myself, again I’m the faculty curator of the museum, I have a full-time collections manager Dr. Beth Womack, and Beth is responsible for all the day to day operations of the museum. Together we think about about where we might want to place our energies in terms of research projects, in terms of collecting efforts. And then we have a whole host of volunteers. Usually in any given semester a we might have between eight and ten volunteers. Most of most of the time those are undergraduate here at the University of Wyoming but they may be graduate students that want to volunteer because they want more experience, or or they think that it’s a really fun way to spend some time. Occasionally we have paid internships. So if a student has volunteered for a few semesters we have opportunities then for those students to get paid. So we may have one undergraduate who is getting paid to prepare specimens, or to help catalog specimens. And then we also have a graduate assistant who in lieu of being a teaching assistant for a class are here can assist in the museum and earn their graduate stipend to assist in the collections that was. So, in any given semester there’s between 8 and 12 people working in the museum in one way or another.