Invertebrate Zoology


Biodiversity Services Facility 

The growing need for biodiversity services 

In recent years, the Invertebrate Zoology section has responded to a wide range of requests for research and identification services related to environmental conditions from government agencies, conservation NGOs, security agencies, and other scientific investigators worldwide. In 2006, the Section developed the Biodiversity Services Facility in response to this growing need. Among other projects, staff scientists are supporting the efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture to detect the introduction of invasive species, a growing threat to native plants and animals, and to sustainability of conditions favorable to agriculture and forestry. Carnegie Museum of Natural History maintains an ongoing commitment to translate its research activities into public and educational programming.

The resources for scientific research in Invertebrate Zoology (IZ) at Carnegie Museum of Natural History are also being leveraged to provide services to society for the conservation and management of living systems. Extensive specimen collections, an excellent technical library, diverse databases, and exceptional staff expertise allow IZ to address informational needs of many external clients, from government agencies worried about introduction of invasive species and bioterrorism, to assessments of ecosystem health for resource managers, and conservation genetics for species of special concern. Archiving information and specimens for the research of others and providing expert identification services are but a few of the frequent service tasks performed.

Clients: Visit here to access the Biodiversity Services Facility website in a new window.



Public Identification Services 

Carnegie Museum entomologists frequently function as unofficial "county extension agents" by providing identifications, answers to questions, or referrals for Pennsylvania citizens regarding insect pests, unusual insects, pet bugs, and other entomological topics. Most of these requests are telephone inquiries, but many are received through the mail, brought to the museum by concerned individuals, or sent by conservancies, government agencies, or other specialists. Hundreds of hours each year are devoted to identification services, many of which can only be provided by specialists at Carnegie Museum. Visit the Specimen Identification section of the website to submit your object for identification.

These services are provided free of charge to the public. Accurate and rapid identification of insect pests may also be obtained by calling
the following tax-supported service:

Insect Identification Center
Allegheny County Health Department
3190 Sassafras Way
Pittsburgh PA 15201

Collection Services to Heritage Program and Others 

ChenkyrOne of the most important responsibilities of a research collection at a major natural history is making those collections and associated data, literature, and expert advice available to others involved in the study of biodiversity. Invertebrate Zoology routinely hosts visitors conducting research on Pennsylvania invertebrates. Visitors use the scientific resources of the section for far more than basic research, as it is the largest source of information for conservation and management of invertebrate species in Pennsylvania.

Scientific visitors depend on the invertebrate collection and library for comparative and identification purposes, especially for specimens from geographical regions not well-represented in other North American collections. Invertebrate Zoology also routinely lends specimens and provides data to specialists and conservationists worldwide. The collection is one of the richest sources of information on Afrotropical insects in the New World. Staff interests and projects extend far beyond the United States, most recently to Haiti and Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

Bob in NeibaInformation from returned loans often change determinations or scientific nomenclature. Because these changes are noted on specimen labels (and often in the database), the collection itself constitutes the only primary authoritative source for current information.

Pennsylvania state agencies often support activities in the museum collections to further an understanding of invertebrates, to facilitate their authoritative identification, and to assist conservationists and state agencies in making informed and science-based decisions for management and preservation of living populations. Such activities are almost never limited to isolated observations in the collection, and usually involve basic research on specific species or habitats. Participants include staff, research associates, or persons external to Carnegie Museum. A major source of funding for such projects in the last ten years has been the PA Wild Resource Conservation Program.

Pennsylvania Studies 

Invertebrate Zoology is involved with a number of projects focused on study on Pennsylvania fauna or involving species which occur in the state. The information gathered from these projects allows conservationists and government managers to be more aware of the health of natural ecosystems. Current projects including the Pennsylvania biota are listed elsewhere under Biodiversity Studies in Pennsylvania. Survey and monitoring programs provide data that is of immediate use to people trying to conserve natural systems, but these projects are also carefully designed to contribute directly to basic research questions on individual species, habitats, and interactions. Some examples follow from our region and elsewhere.

Pittsburgh BioBlitz 2001.
A 24-hour biological survey of Pittsburgh's Schenley Park that focused media and public attention on biodiversity (June 15-16).
Because most of the life on Earth is invertebrate, most invertebrates are arthropods, most arthropods are insects, and most insects are beetles! Carnegie Museum of Natural History entomologists had their hands full, especially the coleopterists!

Survey of Non-Target Insects in Gypsy Moth Susceptible Forests, Cheat Ranger District, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. 

Funded by Monongahela National Forest, USDA Forest Service, Elkins, West Virginia. With a final report now being written, this extremely diverse assessment of forest insect diversity was made in a wide range of habitat-types from high spruce uplands to floodplain thickets. In design very similar to the oak-type study conducted on the Allegheny National Forest, this study will characterize the insects and associated plants of the Cheat Ranger District in unprecedented detail. The study reports the discovery of new species and rigorous documentation of seasonal phenology patterns and correlations with vegetation. (Collaboration with Botany at Carnegie Museum of Natural History).