Leveraging Natural History Collections

This is a hybrid event on the contributions and potential of natural history collections to address global change questions with talks, panel discussions, collection tours and networking.


Natural history collections in museums, herbaria, seed banks, and tissue banks provide some of the most valuable information sources in an ecologist’s toolbox: time series data. These collections not only permanently archive preserved specimens, but hold critical historical and contemporary information about how species distributions, interactions, and phenotypes respond to global change across time scales. Whether specimens are serving as indicators of environmental change or as the measurement of an ecological response, they remain critical to understanding ecological impacts of global change. However, despite the existence of these studies, the value of collections is still under-appreciated and much more knowledge can be gained from investigating this rich data resource.

This event is jointly sponsored by the British Ecological Society (BES) journals, Natural History Museum London, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology and University of Michigan Herbarium and launches our new cross-journal Special Feature


14 February will feature talks, panel discussions, collections tours and networking. [Collections tours and networking will not be available for online attendees]

15 February will be a more focussed session for stakeholders who use natural history collections for these kinds of studies to feedback to Museum staff how we can facilitate these kinds of projects in future. [We will arrange one session in person and one online]. Please register your interest for this when you register for the meeting.


In person attendance is £5 for BES members, £10 for non-BES members, free for special feature authors*, and free for Museum staff and students (please register with your nhm.ac.uk email address to be eligible for this discount). Online only attendance is free. If you are not going to attend in person please register using the ONLINE ONLY options as we will use this to estimate capacity and the tea/coffee order!

Register here.

*There will be some funding available to special feature authors, more info to come…check your emails.

If you are interested in becoming a BES member to purchase the BES member rate ticket, you can find out more information and join here. Membership starts from £23, or you can get 12 months free membership if you are an undergraduate, masters, or first year PhD student.



The conference will take place in the Flett Lecture Theatre, Natural History Museum London, UK. We will also stream the event live via Microsoft Teams.

The entrance to the Flett theatre is on Exhibition Road, just to the left of the public entrance to the Museum. When you enter you’ll see a door right in front you and can go up the stairs to the Flett theatre. There will also be friendly security person to point you in the right direction.



The two closest underground (tube) stations to the Museum are South Kensington and Gloucester Road. Both are on the Piccadilly and District/Circle lines. The area is also well connected to various bus routes and there is a Santander cycle hire on the Queens Gate side of the Museum. There is no parking at the Museum, but if you need this for accessibility reasons please contact natalie.cooper@nhm.ac.uk to arrange.



The conference venue is fully wheelchair-accessible, but neither tube station close to the Museum is. London taxis and buses are accessible (in theory). If you need to drive to the Museum please let natalie.cooper@nhm.ac.uk know as soon as possible to sort out parking.

There is a hearing aid loop in the lecture hall. The Museum has a faith room, lactation room and gender neutral bathrooms, ask natalie.cooper@nhm.ac.uk if you need more details.

If have any other need, please indicate this on your registration form. If you have any questions/concerns, please contact local organiser, Natalie Cooper (she/her): natalie.cooper@nhm.ac.uk.