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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

UC Davis Hosts Biodiversity Day

The California Aggie explores some of the various museums and collections

UC Davis will host the 8th annual Biodiversity Museum Day on Feb. 16 to showcase 13 biodiversity-related museums and collections. Organizers hope to celebrate the great variety of species that inhabit the earth and highlight the threat human actions pose to biodiversity.

Many of the museums and collections open during the event are used for teaching and research. Biodiversity Museum Day is an opportunity to broaden the reach of the UC Davis collections.

“Those of us who manage these collections want to help people become more aware and knowledgeable about the interaction of organisms on this planet,” said Ernesto Sandoval, the manager of the Botanical Conservatory and one of the event planners.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free parking and admission. Half of the museums and collections will be open in the morning and the other half will be open in the afternoon. The official website offers a map and more detailed information.

The California Aggie chose one species of particular interest from each collection. These are some of many the species to take a closer look at.


Taxonomic Classification: Melaleuca viminea

A Melaleuca shrub is planted on the eastern side of the Arboretum in the Australian Collection. The shrub is unassuming from afar, but up close, little woody fruits that look like barnacles cling to the branches of the plant. These incredibly tough fruits only drop seeds after a fire. Melaleuca is native to Australia but is found in different varieties across the world. It does not require irrigation because of its deep roots and evergreen leaves that maximize its ability to collect water. The shrub, like the rest of the Arboretum, is open to the public year-round, but Biodiversity Museum Day is a good opportunity to pause and take a closer look at the incredible variety of species living in Davis.

Bohart Museum of Entomology

Photo credit: Peter Smith

Taxonomic Classification: Therea petiveriana

This cockroach is informally called the “domino cockroach” because of its black and white spotted pattern. Entomologists believe the unique colors evolved to help this insect, native to Southern India, imitate the more dangerous six-spot ground beetle. Visitors can find the “domino cockroach” in the Bohart Museum of Entomology among the display habitats that contain living species. Most of the Bohart museum is a collection of meticulously preserved dead insects that will also be on display during Biodiversity Museum Day. In particular, the large butterfly collection will be open with experts ready to provide in-depth information.

Botanical Conservatory

Photo credit: Peter Smith

Taxonomic Classification: Dorstenia gigas

In the wild, the giant Dorstenia has very few leaves because it is a succulent. UC Davis botanists discovered, however, that the plant grows conspicuous leaves when heavily watered in a greenhouse. If you visit this plant in the Botanical Conservatory on Biodiversity Museum Day, you will see a greenhouse plant that looks dramatically different compared to its wild equivalent.

California Raptor Center

Photo credit: Billy Thein

Taxonomic Classification: Buteo swainsoni

Name of Bird pictured: “Whistler”

The Swainson Hawk is a local species with fascinating migration patterns.

“The core of their Central Valley breeding population is concentrated in the greater Sacramento region, including areas in and around Davis,” said Julie Cotton, a volunteer and outreach coordinator at the California Raptor Center. “They are one of the longest-distance migratory hawks in the Western United States, traveling from their summer breeding grounds to areas of Central and South America for the winter.”

The Raptor Center has two “educational ambassador” hawks named Grasshopper and Whistler. Both will participate in the Biodiversity Museum Day.

Center for Plant Diversity

Photo credit: Dean W.M. Taylor CC 2.0

Taxonomic Classification: Calystegia occidentalis

Department of Anthropology Museum

Photo credit: Peter Smith

Taxonomic Classification: Homo Erectus

Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven

Photo credit: Public Domain

Taxonomic Classification: Apis mellifera

Marine Invertebrate Collection

Photo credit: Courtesy Marine Invertebrate Collection

Taxonomic Classification: Carpilius maculatus

Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology

Photo credit: Courtesy Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology

Taxonomic Classification: Panthera leo

Nematode Collection

Photo credit: Courtesy Nematode Collection

Taxonomic Classification: Acrobeles complexus

Nematodes are the largest group of multicellular animals on earth, but they are not well-classified or understood. Acrobeles complexus is a mysterious nematode that can survive even the most inhospitable conditions.

“This is a microscopic free-living nematode capable of living in extremely arid desert environments due to its ability to survive in a dried-out resting state, called anhydrobiosis, until environmental conditions are right for it to wake back up,” said Corwin Parker, a graduate student in the department of Entomology and Nematology who helps with the museum.

Although nematologists understand how the species withstands extreme conditions, they are unsure of the specific purpose of the structures around the mouth.

Paleontology Collection

Photo credit: Courtesy Paleontology Collection

Taxonomic Classification: Flexicalymene meeki

Phaff Yeast Culture Collection

Photo credit: Courtesy Phaff Yeast Culture Collection

Taxonomic Classification: Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection

Photo credit: Courtesy Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection

Taxonomic Classification: Brettanomyces bruxellensis

Written By: Peter Smith — science@theaggie.org


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