Learn about the Philippine Biodiversity Expedition
Collecting herpetological specimens since 1853.
Current CCG research
Explore the aquatic diversity of the Philippines.
Marine Mammal Stranding Network
Herpetology in Myanmar and the Gulf of Guinea
New Visualization & Outreach program
Explore Herpetology's vast collections
We invite you to join us in a botanical exploration of our planet.
- CCG Genomics Lab
CCG Genomics Lab
Insects and arachnids (spiders and their kin) account for more than four-fifths of the described species in the world.
Our collection of amphibians & reptiles is one of the ten largest in the world.
Ichthyology is the study of fishes. The department maintains the third most important fish collection in North America.
- Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
This department does research on Recent invertebrates, fossils, diatoms, and minerals and maintains their collections.
- Ornithology & Mammalogy
Ornithology & Mammalogy
We have over 135,00 bird and mammal specimens from 120+ countries, and one of the world's largest marine mammal collections.
- Vertebrate Zoology and Anthropology
Vertebrate Zoology and Anthropology
Welcome to the Department of Vertebrate Zoology & Anthropology.
- Academy Library
Online home of the California Academy of Sciences Library, serving the information needs of researchers since 1853.
- Center for Applied Biodiversity Informatics
Center for Applied Biodiversity Informatics
CABI integrates biodiversity data with spatial information about the Earth to understand changing patterns of biodiversity.
- Center for Comparative Genomics
Center for Comparative Genomics
The Center for Comparative Genomics is a core facilty comprised of three units
- Center for Exploration & Travel Health
- Scientific Publications
Publishing scientific material on the natural world since 1854.
The Importance of Natural History Collections
CAS Special Publication: The Coral Triangle - The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition
The old saying “You are what you eat” takes on new significance in the most comprehensive analysis to date of early human teeth from Africa.
Our ancestors used to dine almost exclusively on leaves and fruits from trees, shrubs and herbs until 3.5mya when a major shift occurred, according to four new simultaneously published studies.
A series of 4 scientific papers shows evidence of an expanding variety of plant foods, written into the enamel of fossil teeth.
Zeresenay Alemseged and others study diet via powder from fossilized hominid teeth.
New studies show that human ancestors expanded their menu 3.5 million years ago.
Alaska's Juneau Icefield, 2012
In collaboration with the Juneau Icefield Research Program and the U.S. Forest Service, this expedition aimed to inventory the plants and beetles of "Paradise Valley," a lush isolated valley, virtually surrounded by ice and apparently ice free for hundreds if not thousands of years-potentially an ideal spot for the differentiation of new species. The botanists, entomologist, soil biologist, glaciologist, and geologist pursued different lines of evidence to estimate just how long the valley has been ice-free.
On this recent expedition to survey fish and corals in Parcel Manuel Luiz, of the northernmost coral reef in Brazil, Academy scientists collaborated with researchers from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina under the auspices of the SISBIOTA-MAR project. A key objective was to evaluate the status of the fire coral, Millepora laboreli, a species that was almost completely decimated by bleaching during the 1999 El Niño. This year, Academy researchers were glad to see that many of its colonies had recovered.
As part of a National Science Foundation Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (PBI) program, Academy researchers participated in a two-month, multi-team expedition to lowland rainforests, cloud forests, and high elevation environments above the tree line (paramo ecosystems) in search of nearly 500 Colombian species that make up a large branch of the Princess Flower family tree called the tribe Miconieae.
Gulf of Guinea
For the past twelve years, the Academy's herpetology curator Dr. Bob Drewes has conducted six multidisciplinary explorations of the island nations São Tomé and Príncipe. His research in the Gulf of Guinea just off Africa's west coast has documented the highest concentration, by area, of endemic species in the world. For his sixth expedition, Dr. Drewes and his team partnered with the government to distribute biodiversity educational materials to schools, hospitals, hotels, and airports.
Academy scientists traveled to Oahu and Hawaii's Big Island to document the distribution of mosquito species that have a role in transmitting infectious disease. Two invasive species-Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) and Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito)-are vectors of dengue virus. Dr. Shannon Bennett, the Academy's curator of the Department of Microbiology, has discovered ecologic factors that inhibit the spread and efficacy of these species.
Hearst Philippines Biodiversity Expedition, 2011
In the largest expedition in the Academy's recent history, a multidisciplinary team of scientists undertook a 42-day journey to the Philippines archipelago to document the biodiversity of this island nation in collaboration with local colleagues. More than 500 new species were documented by researchers conducting a comprehensive survey of three non-overlapping habitats: shallow-water, deep sea, and terrestrial. Working in collaboration with the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, findings by Academy scientists are guiding the nation's environmental policies and the establishment of new marine and coral sanctuaries.
For over two decades, Academy scientist Brian Fisher has led research expeditions to this island nation in the western Indian Ocean near Africa, identifying more than a thousand new species of ants and partnering with 180 taxonomic collaborators around the world. This year, Dr. Fisher focused on documenting the ant population of the Kasijy, one of the last standing pristine forests in Madagascar.
Mount Tamalpais, 2012
Academy scientists, in partnership with the Marin Municipal Water District, led a team of volunteers to the Bay Area's Mt. Tamalpais to conduct a citizen science "bio blitz"—a focused survey of botanical life within a targeted portion of the watershed's 18,000 protected acres. These volunteers, aka "citizen scientists" have established a new baseline of plant and animal distributions in the face of climate change. Their work has added many specimens, photos, and GPS coordinates to records that advance the Academy's research.
Academy scientists journeyed to the field station of the Nigerian Montane Forest Project to conduct the first in-depth survey of amphibian and reptile fauna on the Mambilla Plateau in eastern Nigeria.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Continuing the baseline survey documentation begun with the Hearst Philippines Expedition, Academy scientists Terry Gosliner and John McCosker undertook reconnaissance visits to Raja Ampat, laying the groundwork for a future, multidisciplinary research project. The oceanic area of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia is known as the "Coral Triangle"-an area with the highest diversity of marine life in the world. The Raja Ampat archipelago, part of the West Papua province of Indonesia, is said to be the richest biodiversity hotspot within the Coral Triangle, and scientific knowledge will be key to its conservation.
South Africa, 2011
As members of the South African National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA), Academy scientists and graduate students searched for spiders across South Africa from Cape Town to the Zimbabwe border. They found new species of assassin spiders, sheet and lace web builders, giant goblin spiders and tree trap-door spiders. These data are being used to map the distribution of biodiversity in South Africa, understand the history of biogeography and climate change in Africa, and to study the evolution of predatory behavior in assassin spiders.
Ten years ago, Academy scientist Dr. Brian Fisher created "Ant Course"—a public workshop for biologists, researchers, and students that teaches ant taxonomy and field research techniques. In 2012, the Ant Course was held for the first time in Africa at the Makerere University Biological Field Station, located in the heart of Kibale Forest, Western Uganda.
- Alaska's Juneau Icefield, 2012
- Brazil, 2012
- Colombia 2012
- Gulf of Guinea
- Hawaii, 2012
- Hearst Philippines Biodiversity Expedition, 2011
- Mount Tamalpais, 2012
- Nigeria, 2012
- Raja Ampat, Indonesia
- South Africa, 2011
- Uganda, 2012
Welcome to the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences. Our research aims to discover new knowledge about life's diversity and the process of evolution and to rapidly apply that knowledge to sustain life on the planet.
The Academy was founded in 1853 to discover the diversity of life in California and has expanded to the exploration of biodiversity hotspots around the globe. Renaming the Academy's Research group reflects the urgent need to gain knowledge of the natural world in the face of rapid changes from climate change and other human activity. We impart this information to the general public, conservationists, policy makers, and end users who share our goal of documenting and sustaining Earth's biodiversity.
The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the Academy currently includes about 100 dedicated individuals, including 20 curator scientists, eight collections managers, and a committed group of postdoctoral researchers, students, curatorial assistants, and library and support staff, as well as a network of accomplished research associates working with us around the world.
We work closely with all staff throughout the Academy to increase the public understanding and engagement with science via personal interaction, communication, educational programs and through the development of exhibits.
Contact the Dean's Office
- Terrence Gosliner
- Senior Curator and Dean of Science and Research Collections, Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Chair
- 415-379-5269 (direct)
- Mailing Address:
- California Academy of Sciences
- 55 Music Concourse Drive
- San Francisco, CA 94118