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I have been busy in the lab this week, but I’m working on a post that should appear on Friday.  As a teaser: I’ll discuss Nepal and Great Auks.

I wanted to point out a letter in this week’s Nature from Kevin Winker and Jack Withrow at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, AK (it’s publicly available).  They highlight the large contribution that their relatively small collection has made to avian research.  The UAM has less than 10,000 bird specimens, which is tiny (by comparison, the American Museum of Natural History has ~875,000 bird specimens, and the Royal Ontario Museum about 214,000).  Yet, as an institution, the UAM has an h-index of 42 (meaning that 42 of its papers has been cited at least 42 times).  As someone who works with museums fairly regularly (although I haven’t had the chance to work with UAM), this is a nice bit of publicity that will hopefully influence those who fund such important institutions.

A tray of the Critically Endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) at the American Museum of Natural History. © 2010 ALB.