Destruction should not be an option

An open letter to Dr. Nick Bruno, President of the University of Louisiana Monroe from The Biodiversity and Conservation Research Group, The University of Mississippi.

Dr. Bruno,

Natural history collections and museums are valuable and vital repositories of biological information. These collections represent a fundamental baseline that scientists use for species identification and to detect deleterious changes in populations, declines in species diversity, and to monitor the health of our planet. In fact, in some cases the information that exists on museums shelves may be found nowhere else on the planet. Without them, it will be impossible to detect and mitigate current and future environmental challenges to the sustainability and health of human populations. 

In addition to their irreplaceable scientific value, Natural History collections are very popular with the general public. Visitors are inspired, entertained, and hopefully educated by the displays that are found at any number of institutions around the world. However, the public sees only a very small portion of the overall material that has been collected, classified, catalogued, and stored at museums. They are likely unaware of the millions of tax-payer dollars provided through scientific foundations that were spent to build those collections, and the millions of hours invested by dedicated scientists whose legacy may be found only on the shelves of those museums.

Arguably, we find ourselves at a critical time in the history of the planet. The loss of species may be the single greatest threat to the preservation of the biological systems that are so crucial for healthy human societies. Will we look back on this moment in time and ask why we did not try harder to preserve those resources so critical to an understanding of our planet?

It was with great concern that we learned that ULM will no longer support their Natural History collections and that they may eventually be destroyed. The members of the Biodiversity and Conservation Research Group respectfully request that the University of Louisiana Monroe administration completely remove destruction of the collection from consideration. We likewise request that the administration use every means at their disposal to continue the support of the ULM collection on-site or to resolve to find a permanent home for this very valuable material.


The Biodiversity and Conservation Research Group, University of Mississippi.

Dr. Steve Brewer, Professor of Biology; Dr. Rich Buchholz, Associate Professor of Biology; Dr. Deborah Gochfeld, Research Professor of Environmental Toxicology; Dr. Marge Holland, Professor of Biology; Dr. Scott Knight, Director, University of Mississippi Field Station; Dr. Paul Lago, Professor of Biology; Dr. Lucile McCook, Curator, Pullen Herbarium; Dr. Cliff Ochs, Professor of Biology; Dr. Glenn Parsons, Professor of Biology; Dr. William Resetarits, Professor and Doherty Chair in Freshwater Biology