Why are old collections Important

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Historic collections act as time capsules that give us a snapshot of the past. They tell us not only about the moths themselves, but also something about the collectors.

Over the years they have become more important because we can compare the past distribution of species with the present distribution.

Collections are important sources of historical information as well as a fine reference resource for insect identification and valuable research tools.

As new study methods are developed we can use historic collections to look at changes in geographical distribution of species; to study the genetics of local populations; or to look at changes in chemicals in the environment.

The Angus moth project

The project is a collaboration between the museums of Montrose (Angus Alive), the University of Dundee and the McManus galleries and museum in Dundee. Each of the museums has moths collected from the old county of Forfarshire, (now Angus and Dundee).

We aimed to collect information about where, when and who collected the specimens, to digitise it and make it available to everyone; to improve the storage of specimens where necessary. We wanted to study the similarities and differences between the collections and collectors.

At the end of the project all the collections should be better stored for the future. Digitising the information will mean that this can be made more widely available and there is less need to handle specimens

The challenges

Each of the collections presented us with different challenges. One needed to be completely re-housed; however the most difficult task was that the important information about each specimen was held on the labels attached to the support pins but underneath the moth. Previously in order to find this information we had to remove the moth from the drawer and then manipulate the labels so it could be read. This task greatly increases the risk of damaging the individual moths

Funding Logos