The Christmas Bird Count

Author: Heather Farrington, Zoology Curator One of the largest and longest-running citizen science programs in the country is the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). In the late 1800s, “Side Hunts” were a common holiday tradition. The goal of these competitive hunting outings was to see who could shoot the most animals (particularly birds and mammals) in a given period of time. Before long, people began to notice that bird populations were declining. On Christmas Day in 1900, an ornithologist by the name of Frank M. Chapman started a tradition of simply counting birds, rather than killing them. And so began the annual Christmas Bird Count. Throughout the nation, there are 15-mile wide, circular territories established for the count. Each territory is intensively surveyed for one day sometime between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Volunteer efforts are coordinated, and data are collected and compiled, by a […]

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DNA Sequencing Urban Artifact’s Union Terminal Beer

Author: Emily Imhoff, Collections Manager, Zoology In late 2016, Urban Artifact brewers collected yeast from Union Terminal grounds. A few months later, at a 21+ Curiocity event, they premiered a new, fruity brew, Union Terminal Bock, made from the National Historic Landmark’s yeast! As a part of the event, we were asked in zoology to determine the yeast’s species. This is how we did it. We actually extracted the DNA from the yeast and analyzed it to determine the species. All DNA is made up of a series of nucleotides, of which there are four types: A, T, C and G. We looked at the sequence of the nucleotides of a certain region of the DNA that is known to function like a barcode that identifies different yeast species. Then we compared the sequence of the Union Terminal yeast’s “barcode” to a database of […]

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