Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Contributes Annual and Investigative Reports to BHL

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has spent the past fifty years working on a complex ecological problem. The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Virginia. While about half of its water comes from the Atlantic Ocean, the rest flows to the bay from 64,000 square miles of watershed - spanning 6 states and home to over 18 million people. Pollution from sewage, agriculture, and industry (as well as other impacts of human development) have degraded the bay’s water quality, damaging biodiversity as well as human health, economics, and recreation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is a private sector group using many approaches to tackle this regional issue.

Thanks to CBF’s participation in the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project, Annual Reports and Investigative Reports from CBF are now available on BHL. These publications document CBF’s initiatives in environmental science, restoration, education, advocacy and litigation.

CBF has contributed its Annual Reports from 2008-2014 which track the organization’s accomplishments and goals. The Investigative Reports contributed to BHL are:

Atlantic Blue Crab on the cover of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Annual Report. Contributed to BHL by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project.

About the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

CBF has been active in coastal conservation since 1967. With offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and D.C., as well as fifteen field centers, it’s the largest independent conservation organization dedicated to promoting the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Infographic by Chesapeake Bay Foundation, web accessed 12/1/2017:

Over the decades, CBF has been instrumental in organizing and sustaining inter-state conservation work. In the 1970s, CBF called for and then provided staff support to a seven-year Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Study which analyzed the state of the bay and identified contributing problems. In the 1980s, based on the study’s results, CBF participated in negotiations for the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a cooperative inter-state commitment to reduce pollution. Today’s goals for bay cleanup are outlined in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, an interstate agreement that includes fairly-distributed, measurable goals as well as EPA-imposed consequences for failure to comply. CBF scientists evaluate the long-term progress of the Bay’s health by measuring indicators in three key areas: pollution, habitat, and fisheries.

CBF’s education programs bring youth into the field for hands-on learning. Kids explore wetlands by boat and learn about watershed ecology and local fishing communities. Photo courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation/

One of CBF’s many current projects has communities 'recycling' oyster shells. Restaurants and citizens bring their empty shells to drop-off points, where they are cleaned and then placed in tanks of swimming oyster larvae. The larvae anchor onto the shells and grow into young 'spat' oysters. Oyster gardeners place these shells in rivers and the Bay to help rebuild oyster reefs. This helps to restore the oyster population and improve water quality - one of these filter feeders can filter up to 50 gallons of water in a day.

Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for sharing their extensive work with us on the Biodiversity Heritage Library!

By Elizabeth Meyer 
Library Project Assistant 
Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University


Chesapeake Bay Foundation (n.d.) Retrieved from

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Magnificent Crustacea: Leach and Sowerby's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae

William Elford Leach. Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Title page. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626.

Without a doubt, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae (1815-1875) is one of the most beautiful publications dedicated to Crustacea. This work, a very special proofprint copy of which has recently been digitized and made available on BHL by the Naturalis Library, was the work of two well-known names in British natural history: the young zoologist William Elford Leach (1791-1836) and the experienced naturalist and engraver James Sowerby (1757-1822). The background and personal history of both gentlemen had a great influence on the coming about of the publication.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXXVI. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.

William Elford Leach 

William Elford Leach was one of the great British zoologists of the beginning of the nineteenth century. He started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum and was responsible for the zoological collections. He was given the task of reorganizing the collections of Hans Sloane, which formed the basis of the museum.

Of the old carcinological collection, not much was left by the nineteenth century. Because of its deplorable condition, Leach's predecessors were forced to destroy much of the collection materials, and as a result, of the hundreds of crustaceans left by Sloane in the eighteenth century, only one specimen has survived to this day. The core of the current carcinological collections of the British Museum is formed by specimens collected under Leach’s supervision. Not only did material from all over the world come in through his scientific contacts, he also donated his personal collection to the museum.

Leach’s merits go beyond collection building alone. He was a gifted taxonomist with a large scientific network who was therefore aware of the developments in systematics on the European continent. He shared this knowledge with his colleagues in Great Britain, organized the collections on a more scientific basis, and wrote a series of articles about it.

The scientific names that Leach introduced were sometimes unusual and not appreciated by all. He named for instance countless genera after a certain Caroline. Leach used her (latenized) name playfully as an anagram to create genus names like Ricenela and Cirolana. Nevertheless, his work ethic was highly praised and his scientific productivity was second to none.

Sadly, Leach’s career lasted only a decade. In 1821, he suffered a nervous breakdown from which he would never recover. A year later he departed from the museum. As a thank you for the enormous collections he had left behind, he received a pension from the British Museum. He did not fare much better after that. He traveled to France and Italy and died of cholera in 1836.

James Sowerby 

Leach was a scientific innovator and brought the zoology in Great Britain to a higher level. Part of his success lay in his collaboration with a gifted artist. For the illustrations in Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae, he relied on the detailed and colorful imagination of James Sowerby.

Portrait of James Sowerby, by Thomas Heaphy. 1816. Wikimedia Commons.

Sowerby was well known because of his extensive contributions to botanical masterpieces such as A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was an artist who actively engaged in scientific work. He maintained correspondence with naturalists and urged them to send material that he could use for detailed studies. The colors that Sowerby used in his work are vivid and meant to appeal to a large audience. In 1809, he published a theory in which he stated that the basic colors red, yellow and blue offer all possibilities for botanical, zoological and geological imagination because these colors were given by nature.

Gold-plated Crabs and The Special Collection of Bibliotheca Carcinologica 

The Bibliotheca Carcinologica, a unique collection in the Naturalis Library of approximately 8,000 publications and a large reprint collection, holds two special copies of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. This collection was amassed by a former curator, Lipke Bijdeley Holthuis (1921-2008), who for more than half a century was the leading expert in his field of crustacean taxonomy. He was particularly interested in collecting books that had been handed down by his famous predecessors.

L.B. Holthuis presented with his book (co-authored by Pietsch) about Lamotius. Photo: T.W. Pietsch, 2007, retouched by B. Kroonenberg.

The Bibliotheca Carcinologica’s first copy of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae was specially bound for the British collector Henry Arthus Johnstone. It features a band of green morocco decorated with gilded crabs and Johnstone’s coat of arms.

Private binding from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone for William Elford Leach's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626.

Private binding from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone for William Elford Leach's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626.

Johnstone's library contained much natural history and was sold in its entirety to a London bookseller in 1921. Subsequently, the books have spread all over the world.

A beautiful binding and a good provenance are of course desirable, but for Holthuis it was of greater importance that a copy was complete, and that in addition all information that provides insight into the publication’s history was preserved. At the back of Johnstone's copy of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae are the covers of the original seventeen plus the two later issues, revealing exact publication dates and an alternate original title, as well as providing insight into the intention of William Elford Leach with regards to the publication.

On the cover of the first issue, Leach wrote that he wanted to publish twelve or fourteen episodes. He asked British naturalists to help make the publication as complete as possible and encouraged them to accurately analyze all the 'rubbish' that dredgers collected from the seabed. Apparently, his call was successful, because on the cover of the thirteenth issue, Leach indicates that the discovery of new species made it impossible to complete the work in fourteen episodes. The new goal was to complete it within eighteen or nineteen episodes.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXIA. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.

After the seventeenth episode that appeared on March 1, 1820, the publication ceased. Leach was unable to continue his work after his breakdown. Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae was finally completed by George Brettinham Sowerby (1812-1884) over half a century later after the publisher Bernard Quaritch had bought up the stock remnants. Quaritch was sensitive to the wish of James Sowerby's descendant to finish the publication according to the original plan. In one additional episode published in 1875 as nos. XVIII and XIX, six more plates plus a beautiful plate of a European lobster (Homarus gammarus), which had previously been unfinished, were published.

European lobster (Homarus gammarus). G.B. Sowerby, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae. Tab. XXXV. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.

Printing Proofs 

More than thirty years after Holthuis had acquired the fine copy from the library of Henry Arthur Johnstone, he bought a very expensive complete set of nineteen separate episodes of Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. On the surface, it is not immediately clear why he would do this: after all, the copy he already had in his possession was complete, with all of the plates and the original covers of the episodes. Further analysis shows that this second copy purchased by Holthuis represents the proofs that William Elford Leach used to provide direction for the publication. On plate XXXIX, for example, he writes: 'Can the rostrum be the added to this plate?'

Proof print. Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXXIX. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.

The rostrum is a pointed, forward-looking deformity of the armor of a crustacean, which sometimes provides usable distinctive indication for taxonomic classification. No wonder Leach asked Sowerby if he could show that in detail. On the plate in Johnstone's copy of the title, the rostrum of Spirontocaris spinus is indeed added.

William Elford Leach, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae. Tab. XXXIX. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.

Other instructions from Leach have also been neatly followed up. The proofs have no direct meaning for the nomenclature; after all, these are unpublished trials with no published names. However, they do provide a good insight into the way Leach and Sowerby worked together and which colors they had in mind.

This unique proofprint copy has recently been digitized for BHL by the Naturalis Library. You can explore it in BHL for free.

Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXX. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732.

Naturalis Library 

The library holds a large collections of scientific, taxonomic literature on zoology, geology, botany and palaeontology. It caters to everyone interested in researching biodiversity, geodiversity and evolution. The library is almost 200 years old and contains around 200,000 books, journals, drawings, prints, icones and many other archived materials.

This blog is largely based on the chapter: Alex Alsemgeest, 'Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae: de drukproeven van het mooiste kreeftenboek. In: A. Alsemgeest en C. Fransen (eds.), In krabbengang door kreeftenboeken: de Bibliotheca Carcinologica L.B. Holthuis (Leiden: Naturalis Biodiversity Center, 2016), p. 123-127.

By Godard Tweehuysen 
Naturalis Library

Friday, December 8, 2017

From Dayton to Cambridge and Back Again: the field notes of August F. Foerste

Field notes are well known to be essential, primary material that provide details about collections and expeditions that aren’t found in published material or specimen labels. Field notes can also contain diary entries, poems, and sketches which give insight into the lives of the researchers themselves. And now, we can add the candy preferences of August F. Foerste to those insights.

In his Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888, with no explanation, we find a list of several different candy recipes, including chocolate creams, lemon drops, and Neapolitan creams. Brings up quite a few questions. Who gave him the recipes? Was this the only paper he had available to write them down? Did he try to make them? Why is there a sugar syrup recipe at the end of the chocolate cream recipe with no explanation as to what to do with it? (This last one, admittedly, is more a personal inquiry of mine.)

Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888.

What we can determine is that they were written down in 1888 when Foerste was completing his master’s degree at Harvard University. In fact, on the facing page, pictured above, we see a note about Harvard’s collections, in particular “microscopic studies of bryozoan, sections of corals, dissected specimens of crinoids, [and] sections of brachiopoda shells.” So while he may have been briefly distracted by confection, he was still focused on his studies. In that same notebook, Foerste includes several illustrations of specimens.

Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888.

Foerste was a native of Dayton, Ohio. Like many naturalists, his early interests in science came about from wandering around town and taking note of the fossils, geological formations and stratigraphy of the local area. He completed his bachelor's degree at Denison University before continuing his studies in Cambridge, Mass. While at Harvard, Foesrte also served as part-time assistant with the United States Geological Survey. As part of the survey, he studied the stratigraphy and petrography of New England.
Illustration by Foerste while in Vermont for the U.S. Geological Survey. Foerste was also studying at Harvard at the time.
Field notes, New England, undated.

After graduating with his Ph.D, Foesrte would return to his hometown, spending most of his career as a teacher at Steele High School. During the summer breaks, he would go out into the field for the U.S. Geological Survey. As part of the BHL Field Notes Project, Smithsonian Institution Archives has digitized many of these notes. In 1932, he was appointed as Associate in Paleontology for the U.S. National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History) until his death in 1936.

We are excited to share Foerste's field notes as part of the BHL Field Notes Project. You can view these and other notebooks by Foerste in BHL. And if anyone gives those confection recipes a try, be sure to share with us!

Written by 
Adriana Marroquin 
Project Manager, BHL Field Notes Project and Smithsonian Field Book Project 

The BHL Field Notes Project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). 

Finding Aid for "Record Unit 7242, Foerste, Aug. F,(Aug. Frederic),1862-1936, Aug. F. (Aug. Frederic) Foerste Papers, 1887-1933 and undated

"August F. Foerste." Centreville-Washington History.  

For a transcribed copy of the recipes, check out the Smithsonian Field Book Project's 2012 Holiday Card, designed by Lesley Parilla.