Housing about 3 million specimens, Oregon State University is home to the state’s arthropod collection. The university has agreed to join 27 other universities and museums across the country to create the world’s largest digital collection of lepidopterans—butterflies and moths.
Over the next four years, volunteers and student workers will process and input around 140,000 of the best butterflies and moths into the new database. The initiative is being coordinated by the Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center at Northern Arizona University.
Butterflies and moths in the collection from Oregon forests, deserts, mountains, and valleys represent a unique chapter of ecological history. This large collection of scaly-winged, woolly creatures will help scientists explore landscape level changes at bigger scales. Digitally documenting these species will benefit future generations as some species are driven extinct.