Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Marjorie Schwarzer

Second Advisor

David Saah


Using species distribution models (SDMs) in Natural History Collections (NHCs) can influence how humans implement conservation changes in flora and fauna communities and ecosystems. Through the use of legacy data (old NHCs and their associated locality/collection information), data correction (background data or pseudo absences added to presence-only data), and the SDM software, Maxent (and its associated geographic information systems or GIS projected models), it has been shown that it is feasible to create a low budget protocol/setup to project the past, present and future of species population changes. This has been done in the past few decades as more collections and their locality data have become digitized, potentially allowing more natural history collecting institutions and scientists to participate in more conservation projects. We can learn from how past and present population ranges have changed due to climate change, urbanization, and deforestation (among other changes) to be able to project where species ranges could exist in the future. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide both a streamlined protocol to input NHC data into Maxent in order to share the results of the Maxent models and associated statistics of NHC data, even if not publication worthy, to larger stakeholders, environmental policy makers and non-profits. Additionally, this project can allow scientists to follow up on the methods and results of the models to see if there really are possible conservation concerns. Interns, citizen sciences, collections workers (non-PhD scientists) can do this in smaller NHCs, and report their findings from their collections. This project has the potential to have a broader impact on rare species housed in smaller collections. Further, it has the capacity to be able allow for specific species and biota to be conserved with the help of precise small grants for specified flora and fauna to be modeled. While this type of project is not the end all be all cure for the biodiversity crisis, it can be a way to use available resources and technology for the advancement of our planet and its inhabitants.