BISHOPS MILLS NATURAL HISTORY CENTRE
The Bishops Mills Natural History Centre cares for fluid preserved collections received from Carleton University from 1997 to 2001. These include a large collection of eastern Ontario fishes, as well as Amphibians, Reptiles, and non-insect invertebrates from around the globe. We also hold the largest collection of recent freshwater mussels from eastern Ontario, crayfishes from throughout Ontario, and the Canadian Library of Drifted Material.
The biology teaching and research collections at Carleton were started in the 1950's, as student collections were made during field study, and students, teachers and colleagues contributed research material and brought specimens back from their travels. Individual routine surveying of the biosphere is the kind of thing that the BMNHC exists to promote. This "citizen science", embodied in museum collections, is still assessible to study after things have changed. See Bev Wigney's photos of "feature specimens" feature specimens
In the 1990's, active collecting slowed to a trickle as environmental change impressed upon us all the vulnerability of populations - once collected because they were available, now documented and analysed in less invasive ways. Even though scientific methods are turning away from general collecting, we still have here a priceless historical record of "what was where when". Now, road kills are salvaged, and invertebrates are collected in small numbers, as we still try to lay down a physical record of how things are.
The collections at BMNHC, as well as other museum collections, are being preserved, catalogued, and databased. Specimen information is being archived in our database to be accessible worldwide, and the physical specimens themselves are still available for comparison with what's "out there" - not only today, but at any time in the future.
Some people feel sad when they look into a jar of alcohol at one of our few Mudpuppy specimens, but a museum specimen only dies once, and if it is well documented, preserved, safely stored, and made accessible to study, it will testify for centuries of its time and place in life, and share its chemical, genetic, and anatomical characteristics, playing an important role in the understanding of populations, species, habitats, and ecosystems.