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Discover Ohio's animals, plants and geological specimens!

Natural History specimens further the Ohio History Connection’s mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories, embrace the present, share the past and transform the future. The Natural History collecting areas encompass the entire history of the land form that is now called Ohio, from its formation over 4 billion years ago to the present, and includes all collections items that were formed by natural processes. Thus, the collection scope includes not only organisms currently found in Ohio, but those deliberately introduced by humans as well as those that have been extirpated either by human activity or non-human causes. The Natural History collections include specimens used for exhibit, education, research, identification and comparison.

As of January 2022, the Ohio History Connection had 38,942 cataloged natural history collections. Insects are the most numerous specimens, reflecting the research interests of several past curators. You can learn about many of these objects and see their photographs by searching the online object catalog.

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Research our natural history collections & our natural areas!

Potential researchers should forward a proposal that outlines the project's goals, objectives, and methods to the Natural History Curator. The proposal should include a discussion of which collections or natural areas the research is intended to address. Discuss potential benefits and impacts of the research. This should include a detailed discussion of any destructive sampling such as extraction for DNA, radiocarbon dating, collecting specimens or tissues from specimens at field sites, potential trampling of habitat, or any other impact on the collection item or the habitat. Include a brief vita or resume with the credentials of the researcher and relevant publications. If the researcher is an undergraduate, a letter of recommendation from the supervising professor should be provided. Researchers will also be asked to send a signed, hard copy of our Protocol Acknowledgement by Researchers.

Proposal Submission

Researchers need to submit a proposal for natural areas managed by Ohio History Connection, even if their activity is limited to observations (bird surveys, butterfly monitoring, etc.). This is important not only for monitoring off-trail hiking but also for providing us with valuable scientific information to assist us in our land management and educational programs.

Annual Report Submission

Each researcher must submit an annual report at the end of the calendar year detailing any observations and preliminary findings. For ongoing research, a final report is required within six months of the end of the project. As noted in the Protocol Acknowledgement by Researchers, any reports, thesis or publication resulting from the work should also be copied to our office. We maintain a complete file of previous research at our sites and in our collections, and this is a precious resource for our own purposes and other researchers.

Other details required for application are available in the Protocol Acknowledgement by Researchers. Send proposals by e-mail to facilitate the process, but the signed copy of the acknowledgment must come by surface mail.

To apply, or for more information, contact:

David Dyer
Curator of Natural History
Ohio History Connection
800 East 17th Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43211

Natural History Staff

Erin Cashion, Natural History Curator

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Erin has a bachelor's degree in Biology from New Mexico State University and a Master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the Ohio State University. She volunteered at the NMSU Vertebrate Museum as an avian specimen preparer and collections assistant. She worked as an avian field technician in Maine, California, Pennsylvania, Hawai'i, and Australia before arriving in Ohio to attend graduate school. Her thesis project investigated the use of remnant and restored habitats by songbirds during fall stopover in the agricultural landscape of northwestern Ohio.

Before coming to Ohio History Connection, she worked on the Second Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas as a field technician, database manager, Atlas website editor, publishing assistant, GIS technician, and contributor. This beautiful volume, which is the definitive guide to all the breeding birds of Ohio, was published in 2016.

An avid outdoorswoman, Erin enjoys being outside as much as possible and teaching others to appreciate nature and wildlife. Although her specialization is birds, Erin is equally enthusiastic about reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods and aims to increase awareness and encourage appreciation for these oft-overlooked and sometimes maligned creatures. She can be found hiking, backpacking, reading, sewing, and attending nerd conventions in her spare time.

David Dyer, Natural History Curator

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Dave started as a volunteer at Ohio History Connection as a high school student, was hired part-time through college, and has been in the museum profession ever since. He has a B.S from Ohio State in Zoology and an M. S. in Museum Studies and Vertebrate Paleontology from the University of Nebraska. Dave’s main interest is the vertebrate skeleton, and his various museum jobs have reflected this. He was formerly the Collections Manager for Natural History at Ohio History Connection, where he helped build the comparative skeletal collections. He then was hired to build large mammal skeletons for a major exhibit on the Ice Age at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. Most recently, he was the Curator of the Zoological Museum at the University of Montana. He had the opportunity to return to the Ohio History Connection in 2013 as a curator of natural history.

Dave has worked extensively with forensic cases involving wildlife remains. He has analyzed over 120 cases for the University of Montana Dept. of Anthropology, Montana Dept. of Forensic Sciences, and several law enforcement agencies. He has written many articles and reports on faunal remains from archaeological sites and on Pleistocene mammal finds. For 10 years, he taught an upper-level university course on identifying animal remains from archaeological sites and forensic contexts.

When not in the office or lab, Dave enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, photography, and collecting bones! He also travels to the North Country whenever possible and has canoed across Alaska and the Yukon, hiked across the Brooks Range in northern Alaska, and traveled to Iceland.

Odonata Research

Discovering New Dragonfly and Damselfly Species

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Curator Emeritus Bob Glotzhober has been working with Odonata since the early 1980s. He was a member at large of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas from 1994 to 1995. In 1990 he founded the Ohio Odonata Survey, which later morphed into the Ohio Odonata Society, for which he served as the first president. The survey mirrored the Lepidoptera survey, discovering to date 164 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Ohio and maintaining a database with more than 29,000 records of specimens, published records and photographic records.

The Hines Emerald Dragonfly

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In 1998 Glotzhober became a member of the Hines Emerald Dragonfly Recovery Team. The Hines Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) is the only federally listed dragonfly. He has been part of three different attempts to survey Ohio for this species – which was first discovered by Ohio History Connection’s first curator of natural history, Dr. James Hine, in Logan County, Ohio. It has not been seen in Ohio since collected in the Oak Openings region near Toledo in 1961. Glotzhober and other members of the Ohio Odonata Society have visited many of the existing population sites in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri to more fully understand the habitat types where it could be found again in Ohio.

Tiger Spiketail Dragonfly

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For ten years, beginning in 1996, Glotzhober studied the larval life history of the Tiger Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster erronea). This species inhabits tiny headwater streams in forested regions. Often these spring-fed streams are only one to two inches deep and six to twelve inches wide. Before his study, this species was listed as State Endangered. It was quickly discovered that while uncommon, the main reason so little was known about Tiger Spiketails was the heavily shaded, forested habitat with initially insignificant-looking small streams that are home to the larvae. Glotzhober combined field studies of the larvae from spring through fall with a laboratory rearing project. The results were published in 2006 in the Bulletin of American Odonatology.

Lepidoptera Research

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Former curator Carl W. Albrecht wrote his Ph.D. on skippers (family Hesperiidae) and was a co-founder of the Ohio Lepidopterists, formed to provide a baseline survey of Ohio’s butterflies and moths. The group worked with the ODNR Division of Wildlife to list state endangered and threatened species. The Ohio Lepidopterists continue to study butterflies and moths. They have since worked with the Division of Wildlife to produce a butterfly monitoring program that provides critical information on population changes within this group of animals. Find more information by visiting the Ohio Lepidopterists website.

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