bulk samples

The Field Museum is one of the world's largest repositories of bulk arthropod samples, collected by museum staff and associates and by collaborators from numerous other institutions. The majority of these are samples of soil and litter faunas (mostly from forests) around the world, extracted by use of Berlese funnels, Winkler eclectors, or other means including deep-soil washing, and mostly stored in 70% ethanol. (A few are in 95% ethanol.) Most samples have ecological data on habitat and/or collecting substrate. At over 16,000 samples and growing, this may be the largest such collection in existence. Most samples have had some taxa removed (especially some combination of beetles, mites, spiders, millipedes, and recently ants), but still contain vast numbers of other arthropods. In addition to soil and litter samples, there are also samples from some 4,000 trap collections (flight intercept or FIT, unbaited pitfall, dung- and carrion-baited pitfall, and blacklight) and small-scale pyrethrin-fogging of substrates such as logs. Much of the sorting done by museum staff or interns has been supported by collection improvement or research grants to curators in the Division of Insects. We encourage interested researchers to visit and check these samples for specimens of their study taxa to borrow. Click here for more information.

This organized collection was begun by former curator Henry S. Dybas (1915-1981; curator 1947-1980), a dedicated "niche collector," who began giving each of his samples a unique number of the form FM(HD)#-year-000, where "year" is the year of collection and 000 is a sequential sample number within that year. The (HD) suffix - his initials - served to distinguish these numbers from catalog numbers of other Field Museum divisions or departments; the parentheses were later eliminated for simplicity. When the museum's name was Chicago Natural History Museum (1953-part of 1966), the prefix CNHM(HD) was used, so specimens sorted and prepared then will be so labeled. All those samples are nevertheless entered here as "FMHD" numbers to simplify use of the data. All available collecting data for each sample are presented in the detailed view of its record.

Searches are automatically performed as whole-word wildcard searches and ignore punctuation. Data for a sample with a known catalog/FMHD number can be found by entering the year-number part of the number in the Sample Number field. There are some inconsistencies in the data, e.g., "National Park" may be abbreviated N.P., Nat. Pk., Natl. Pk., or (in Spanish-speaking countries) P.N., and distances from named places are written in different forms, so searching for just the key words in names of localities (e.g., Olympic, Puyehue, Border Ranges) is recommended. The web interface currently cannot search for alternative values in a single field (e.g., Berlese OR Winkler in Collecting Method). If you enter more than one term in a single field, only records with all terms (in any order) will be returned. To search for a phrase, enclose it in double quotes ("carrion trap"). Partial words may be searched for using an asterisk (*) as a wildcard, but such searches will take longer and may time out. Search results are sorted by year and sample number, but if there are more than 5000 records in the result set, they will be unsorted and/or you may get just a list of record numbers. Partial-date searches can be done using several formats: yyyy, //yyyy, d/m/, m/yyyy, or d//yyyy (including the slash characters shown) and 3-letter abbreviations (jan, feb, dec, etc.) can be used instead of numbers for the month.

Users should note that the prefix "BS-" numbers used for collecting sites are database-generated site numbers; they have no historical significance and are not present on the specimen labels. Site numbers with the prefix ANMT are those of collectors A. F. Newton and M. K. Thayer, and usually do appear on sample and specimen labels.

Enter search term(s)...
  Locality    [ e.g., Olympic, Horseshoe Cave ]
  Sample #    [ format is FMHD#year-000, use yy for years 19xx, yyyy for 2xxx ]
  Other Sample #   
  Collector(s)    [ e.g., M. K. Thayer ]
  Collection Method    [ e.g., Berlese, carrion trap, litter ]
  Date Collected   
  Records per page   


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