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Collections Databases

This site provides access to specimen-associated data housed in the Department of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences. Entomology maintains two databases of the arthropod collections, the Type Collection Database and the Insect Collection Database, both of which are searchable online. Descriptions of the databases are provided below.


Type Collection Database


The Department of Entomology houses over 18,300 primary type specimens of insects, arachnids, and myriapods. All types have been cataloged and databased. Images of specimens and labels are available for some groups, including the families Carabidae (Coleoptera), Formicidae (Hymenoptera), Therevidae (Diptera) and Acroceridae (Diptera).

In addition to CAS holdings, the Academy also serves as a depository of primary types for 13 other institutions in the western United States. We receive these specimens on permanent or indefinite loan, depending on the institution and its regulations. By formal arrangement with institutions and authorities in several foreign countries (e.g., Peru and Papua New Guinea), we hold a few primary type specimens in trust, pending the establishment of permanent, long-term storage and service capabilities for type material within those countries.

It is difficult to check whether all of our type specimens have been validly published given such a large type collection. We urge specialists who recognize manuscript names or any invalid types to contact us.


Insect Collection Database


Thanks to generous support from the National Science Foundation, Department of Entomology has inventoried and databased our entire pinned insect collection. This species-level database includes data on 6,297,638 specimens representing 147,693 taxa. It does not include information on groups of arthropods normally kept in alcohol with the exception of the Trichoptera (caddis-flies) and Embiidina (web-spinners). It also does not include information on specimens out on loan (more than 700,000 specimens), and the approximately 3 million specimens gathered as part of the Madagascar Arthropod Biodiversity Project.

This database includes a considerable amount of geographical information. The number of specimens was recorded for all species and subspecies for each country. Additionally, the number of specimens was recorded for each state of North America (Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico) and each island group of Indonesia and the Galapagos Archipelago. Finally, the number of specimens was recorded for each county of California. For China, provinces were divided between Palearctic and Oriental Regions. For Indonesia, islands were divided between Oriental and Australian Regions. For Mexico, states were divided between Nearctic and Neotropical Regions. Florida was considered entirely Nearctic, and Japan was considered to be entirely Palearctic.

Last updated August 2008