Natural history collections contain historical information about the ecology of our natural and urban spaces. The potential significance of these data for the field of conservation and restoration planning is growing rapidly, as the accessibility of specimen data has grown, particularly through the internet. Collections often contain information about species associations, habitat, phenology and other data that are valuable for habitat planning and monitoring. The Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) is in the process of restoring 250 acres of coastal California habitat on the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus and adjacent areas. The Center also contains a regional collection of over 120,000 specimens, representing 18,226 species from 4 kingdoms. The majority of the specimens were collected on the UCSB campus, in the surrounding UCSB Reserve System lands, or in the greater Santa Barbara county area. Ecological restoration is defined as the process of restoring ecosystems based on their historic trajectory, preceding periods in which they were damaged or transformed by human activities. It is often difficult to obtain historical information about habitats and organisms, especially in populated areas such as coastal California, and this further highlights the importance of natural history collections data.
This presentation will demonstrate the use of specimens from natural history collections toward informing efforts in conservation and ecological restoration, drawing on examples of collection data from herbivorous plant bugs (Miridae), bees (Apoidea), and their host plants, particularly as commonly included in restoration projects around the South Central Coast of California.