skip to content

Research & Collections Programme

Growing research through the convening power of Cambridge’s collections

Project 1: Collections based (environmental) conservation practice

PIs: Dr Lauren Gardiner (Herbarium), Dr Ed Turner (Zoology), Prof Beverley Glover (Plant Sciences / Director Cambridge University Botanic Garden), Prof David Coomes (Plant Sciences / Director Cambridge Conservation Research Institute)

To join: Dr Kate Noble (Fitzwilliam Museum), Dr Mark Winterbottom (Faculty of Education)

Cambridge Collaborations: Schools of Biological Sciences, and Humanities and Social Sciences, one IRC and two NSIs.

External partners: Currently: Wildlife Trusts, Esmée Fairbairn Trust, three primary schools in N. Cambridgeshire.

To join: other members of Cambridge Conservation Forum, and CCRI, other primary schools

Cambridge collections: Botanic Gardens, Zoology Museum, Sedgwick Museum, University Herbarium, Cambridge University Library, Fitzwilliam Museum

A core network of researchers from the Museum of Zoology, the Herbarium, local conservation agencies and local schools already work together to develop ways of using the collections for informing conservation practice. This network will be expanded to include the living collections in the Botanic Garden, more representatives from the CCRI, Dr Kate Noble from the Fitzwilliam and Dr Mark Winterbottom from the Faculty of Education. Inspired by the Living Collections Strategy developed recently by the Botanic Garden, collaborators will audit the collections and identify the elements that will be most effective in informing conservation practice, for example ecological interactions such as herbivores and foodplants, or pollinators and plants; or comparisons of preserved and living collections. The inclusion of an education specialists in the project will help us to consider how best to incorporate conservation-related themes into primary school education. By screening available equivalent data on the scope of collections nationally and internationally (e.g. the Global Biodiversity Information Facility), it will be possible to identify the unique strengths of the Cambridge collections in developing new conservation practice. This information can be used in prioritising future acquisitions, and in determining which of our current specimens should be digitised first. It can also be used to target other collections for collaborative work internationally, for example those which complement or enhance the strengths of the Cambridge collections and will help prioritise student-collected material for accession to the collections, such as material collected for project work or on field courses.