Richter Museum UWGB

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The Richter Museum

History

The Richter Museum of Natural History is a museum located within the Mary Ann Cofrin Hall of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Containing one of Wisconsin's most prodigious selections of animal specimens of the Great Lakes Region providing scientific research and education purposes.

Mary Ann Cofrin Hall

Collections

The foundation of the museum exists wholly as a generous gift from former Oconto Wisconsin resident Carl Richter, one of the state’s most eminent ornithologists. Having a lifelong proficiency and expertise in birds and their eggs the museum now ranks among the ten largest oological (eggs) collections in all of North America. It houses specimens of 95% of the local mammal species, 80% of the reptilian and amphibian species, 80% of fish species and a superlative 100% complete collection of locally breeding bird species. Due to their steadfast dedication to natural history, The Richter Museum has garnered recognition for the invaluable contribution to the advancement of "Systematics". Systematics is the science of classifying organisms according to evolutionary relationships.[1]

Its extraordinary collection serves also as a repository for specimens obtained by biologists, resource managers and graduate students undertaking field research as well as environmental impact reports. The fragments and samples provided have been meticulously cataloged into fire-safe metallic cabinetry for long term preservation. Permissions to this collection are reserved for researchers of the field and students of the campus enrolled in related field of study i.e. Mammalogy or Ornithology.[2]

Curator

The current museum curator is UWGB professor, Dr. Daniel Meinhardt. Dr. Meinhardt teaches courses in human anatomy and physiology, comparative vertebrate anatomy and evolutionary biology. His background and proficiency as an evolutionary anatomist have provided the Richter Museum with a nearly complete collection of western Great lakes vertebrates. [3]

Regional Projects

The museum serves as a sponsor to numerous research projects including:

  • Fauna research projects of northeastern Wisconsin.
  • Taking biological inventories of the Point Sable Nature reserve of Green Bay.
  • Surveys of colonial nesting birds of the area such as pelicans, terns, herons, cormorants, egrets and of course gulls.
  • The breeding of migrant raptors (hawks) and the analysis of bird and bat mortality surround the newly constructed wind power facilities of Kewaunee County.
  • Investigation of mammal sub-fossils from the Brussels Hill Pit cave of Door County, Wisconsin[4]

Wildlife Projects

Prior to the convenience of modern technologies, naturalists depended on the collection of specimens to identify animal and plant species. These samples were then used to categorize newly discovered species and were often redistributed to other collectors or museums for authentication. In the modern world, photographs and online data banks have largely replaced extensive field collection excursions, but excavation still plays a crucial role in the field.[5]

Specimens from the Richter Museum have been used extensively by researchers in the Great Lakes Region. Two renowned scientists Hickey and Anderson, used eggs of the Herring Gull from The Richter Museum to evaluate levels of DDT, (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) a synthetic compound used as an insecticide. Thanks to the contributions of The Richter Museum to Hickey and Anderson, it was determined that DDT was directly responsible for the thinning of egg walls and the death of embryos before hatching. The DDT persisted in the soil and river sediment and decimated the bird population including protected species such as the bald eagle. As a result of their discoveries, Wisconsin became the first state to ban the use of DDT pesticides in the nation. [6]

Fox River Clean up boat

Although they are famous for their ornithology, The Richter Museum also plays an integral role in the well being of aquatic lifeforms as well. Biologists from UWGB, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service have used specimens from the museum to test for other harmful contaminates such as PCB's. PCB's (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) is a man made waste product that is found in concentrated amounts in water, been proven to cause a myriad of ailments including severe liver damage, neurotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity and is a known and potent carcinogen. PCB's are a prevalent issue in the Fox River Valley and greater Green Bay area, and specimens are routinely used as reference materials for identification of toxicity levels of animals both in and around the water. [7]

Article History

  • Additional Contributors:
  • Proofreading and Editing for Style:
  • Fact Checking: (Stanjd28) (talk) 19:11, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Source Checking:
  • Originality Checking:kaatjl29
    • (2018-12-13) Content was original and not copied directly from other sources.

References

  1. “Richter Museum of Natural History.” The Artist and Society, www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/richter/[1]
  2. “Richter Museum of Natural History.” The Artist and Society, www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/richter/[2]
  3. “Biology.” The Artist and Society, www.uwgb.edu/biology/faculty-staff/daniel-meinhardt[3]
  4. “Richter Museum of Natural History.” The Artist and Society, www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/richter/[4]
  5. “Richter Museum of Natural History.” The Artist and Society, www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/richter/[5]
  6. Jbates. “Eggshells, DDT, Collections, and Study Design.” The Field Museum, 30 May 2018, www.fieldmuseum.org/blog/eggshells-ddt-collections-and-study-design[6]
  7. “Environmental Health and Medicine Education.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=30&po=10[7]