Hello, my name is Heidi and I am the Invertebrate Collection Manager at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM). First things first, you’re probably wondering what an invertebrate is. An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. Invertebrates that you may know include crabs, worms, squid, sea stars, snails and slugs. Insects and their ‘allies’ (spiders, centipedes and millipedes) are also invertebrates but are studied and stored within the entomology collection at RBCM.
Many people don’t realize that we have huge, behind-the-scenes collections of natural and human history objects and specimens at RBCM. The invertebrate collection alone houses close to 65, 000 ‘lots’. A ‘lot’ may contain a single specimen, or it may consist of multiple individuals from a single sampling event. The invertebrate specimens range in size from microscopic plankton to meters-long squid.
As you may imagine, space and proper storage are important issues for these collections! The specimens may be stored in a dried, slide mounted, or fluid preserved state. The specimens are housed in museum grade containers and then stored in large rooms with compact rolling shelving. For very large specimens we store them in large vats with an appropriate preservative fluid.
One of the primary purposes of the RBCM is to document and preserve BC’s natural history and biodiversity over space and time. Because of this mandate, the collections are very active places to be! I work with the Invertebrate Curator, Melissa Frey, and together we accept new donations, conduct our own research and collections, maintain current research and type collections, negotiate loans, host visiting researchers, as well as work with research associates and volunteers. So in addition to storage space, the invertebrate collection also has a fully-functioning laboratory space in which we conduct research, identify species, and process specimens.
Well, that is a first, quick glimpse at the Invertebrate Collection . Don’t worry there will be more information, stories and pictures to come!
Thank you for reading.