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Carnegie MuseumsMedia Kit

A BioForay identifies plants and animals in their native habitats and records their relationships to each other. This in-depth look at the habitats of living creatures has long-term ecological importance.


























































May 15 - August 15, 2004 Special Exhibits Gallery

Members-Only Preview
Join us on Thursday, May 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. for a members-only luau. Enjoy Hawaiian-themed cocktails and island appetizers, view Remains of a Rainbow, and hear a lecture by Richard Palmer, Ph.D., titled Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Close Encounters with Hawaii’s Natural Area Reserves. Tickets: $20 per adult; $14 per child. For more information or to purchase a ticket, call 412.622.3314.





Eastern garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, the most abundant snake in Pennsylvania.

To date, more than 200 acres of the Museum of Natural History’s 2,200-acre nature reserve have been surveyed during the 2002 and 2003 BioForays, providing the beginnings of an impressive database that will give scientists
an unprecedented tool for understanding and studying the environment.

At the BioForay, amateur naturalists are given the opportunity to work alongside field scientists as they survey and document where flora and fauna occur. Past participants have included parents and their children, retired individuals, schoolteachers, and other professionals—all eager to gain an in-depth understanding of the natural world.

To conduct the survey, the area being researched is divided into a grid of 50-meter squares. Then, teams of experts and amateur naturalists methodically identify all the organisms found within each square and record their precise locations. Birds are identified by their songs, mammals are live-trapped and released, and small animals such as insects and spiders are collected for accurate species identification at the museum.

Luna moth, Actius luna,
has a wing span up to 10.5 cm.

In June 2002, BioForay teams investigated two sites—one at Furnace Woods and one at Powdermill Run. Scientists and naturalists identified 665 species of plants, animals, and fungi in 144 locations in the plots, representing 1,592 different species localities. Among the species they found associated with each other were the Magnolia Warbler with Hemlock trees, and the silphid beetle (Nicrophorus orbicollis) with the cranefly (Epiphragma fascipennis). Knowing the relationships of species within their habitats makes it easier to predict how changes affecting one species influence other species and their common environment.

Robert Davidson of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Invertebrate Zoology department (bugs) points out two ways of viewing data: first, see if it provides a picture of ecosystem health; second, use it to interpret or predict other environmental features. Logging companies in Pennsyl-vania and other states use scientific field-workers for background surveys before they harvest the trees to determine if any endangered species are occurring in an area.

In 2003, the BioForay shifted to another area of Powdermill Reserve along Weaver Mill Road, which included an old strip mine and a sphagnum swamp. In 2004, the BioForay will be held in an area of the Reserve known as the Friedline Mine.
Theresa Gay Rohall, coordinator of education at Powdermill, notes that a
long-term goal of the BioForay at Powdermill is to go beyond the boundaries of the nature reserve itself and survey other areas of the region, thus putting together a
broader picture of biodiversity in the Laurel Highlands.

For more information about the BioForay, call 724.593.6105, or visit the website www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmnh/powdermill.

A Half-Million
Birds Later...
Powdermill’s Senior Bird Bander Retires

Western Pennsylvania's best-known bird bander, Robert C. Leberman, has retired from full-time work at Powdermill Nature Reserve after more than 42 years of service to Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He will continue part-time with the program he established while he works on a new edition of his 1976 book, The Birds of the Ligonier Valley, which he hopes to publish during Powdermill’s 50th anniversary year in 2006.

Robert C. Leberman with a Grey Catbird. Photo: Mindy McNaugher

Bird banding became Powdermill's signature scientific program in 1961, after Leberman began his fieldwork at the invitation of then museum director Dr. M. Graham Netting, under the direction of the museum's Section of Birds.

Leberman was a pioneer in developing one of the most productive, long-standing, and well-regarded landbird monitoring programs in North America. Initially working outdoors, even bathing in the cold waters of Powdermill Run in the early years, Leberman for many years banded birds in a tiny converted summer kitchen. He finally moved into a spacious, specially constructed banding lab in the headquarters area of the reserve, where the banding continues to this day.

To capture birds, he used nearly invisible mist nets in a trap-and-release technique that literally has bagged a half-million birds for the program during more than four decades of work. Each of these birds was carefully retrieved from the nets within an hour of its capture, put into a paper bag held closed by a color-coded clothespin, and returned to the banding station for processing. Bob recorded each bird’s species, age, breeding condition, fat level, and weight, after deftly attaching a tiny identifying band to its leg. Once banded and fully recorded, the birds were quickly released through a small sliding trap door in the window at the side of the banding desk. In addition to the valuable data collected at banding, information is also recorded when the same banded birds are recaptured in the nets at Powdermill days, months, or even years later. And inevitably, a small number of banded birds are found each year at sites as far away as Florida, Costa Rica, and even California. Their Powdermill origins are traced through the individually numbered bands that Bob originally attached.

Generations of students and future bird-lovers were introduced to ornithology and
ecology by watching Leberman work. Robert Mulvihill, once a student intern at Powdermill, was led into a career in field ornithology by the mentoring he received from Bob Leberman. “In the course of his career, tens of thousands of visitors of all ages and from every walk of life have been welcomed and educated in Bob's easy way,” Mulvihill notes. “He set the highest possible professional standard for quality and quantity of data, and his diligent work was always accompanied by an unflaggingly kind and humble demeanor. It is impossible to overstate the good will that Bob’s efforts have garnered for Powdermill and for Carnegie Museum of Natural History.”


Exploring the “Evolving Miracle” of Hawaii
Remains of a Rainbow

The rainbow is the hallmark of Hawaiian life, and the traveling photographic exhibition Remains of a Rainbow captures the rich but imperiled tapestry of life that is native to the Hawaiian Islands. Sponsored by the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, this stunning collection of portraits of rare and endangered plants and animals is not intended to memorialize species that will soon be extinct, but rather call attention to their plight and provide a glimpse of how urban development, pollution, and industrialization are taking a toll on Hawaii’s native species and natural resources.

Acclaimed wildlife photographers David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton capture the beauty of nature by isolating individual species on a black or white backdrop. Flowers explode with color; insects are illuminated; birds and fish stare back at the viewer, revealing distinct personalities.

Remains of a Rainbow: Rare Plants and Animals of Hawaii was the long-awaited third book by these two photographers, published in 2001 by National Geographic in association with Environmental Defense. More than 40 of the book's portraits are reproduced in the exhibit, which also has a 30-minute film documenting the astonishing Hawaiian environment. After premiering at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii in January 2004, the exhibit will open at Carnegie Museum of Natural History as the first stop on its world tour.

Endangered species photographer Susan Middleton says that she came to understand fully “the evolutionary frenzy, the evolutionary miracle” that occurred in the Islands, and the profound difference between what is native or not-native in the environment. She saw that the native plants and animals are the real expressions of a place, and give it its unique character. Understanding that for the first time in Hawaii, she says, “changed my life utterly.”


Garden Themes & Birdhouse Dreams
Seventh Annual Benefit for Powdermill
Friday, May 28, 2004, 6 p.m. l Powdermill Nature Reserve

As has become the custom, Memorial Day weekend in the Ligonier Valley will again be kicked off by the popular celebration Garden Themes & Birdhouse Dreams. Last year this fundraising event sold out and netted nearly $50,000 to benefit the programs and facilities at Powdermill Nature Reserve.

The event features a silent auction of birdhouses and one-of-a-kind, garden-related items, all created and donated for the event by artisans of all ages from western Pennsylvania and beyond. In addition, unique items and opportunities are offered in a live auction. The evening includes a reception, a buffet supper, and special activities for children during the silent and live auctions.

Over the last six months, adult and child artists have created and donated a birdhouse or a bird- or garden-related item to the auction. A panel of judges selects the winners, who receive cash awards, medals, and gift certificates. In addition, Patricia and Harvey Childs of G Squared Gallery, the event’s founders, present a $500 award to the artist who designs their personal favorite. Artists are also honored at a special artists’ reception. Information about how to donate an item is available at G Squared Gallery in Ligonier or on the event’s website: www.birdhousedreams.com.

All the entries will be on display in the Ligonier Valley Library’s Art Gallery from May 21-27, and the public is invited to visit the Gallery, look at the items, and bid on them—especially if a person is unable to attend the event on May 28.
Garden Themes & Birdhouse Dreams tickets are $30 per person (with no charge for children under 12) and reservations can be made by calling Powdermill at 724.593.6105. Space is limited to 350 reservations and early reservations are encouraged.

Architects Chosen for Dinosaurs in Their World

Carnegie Museum of Natural History has selected E. Verner Johnson and Associates of Boston and the Pittsburgh office of Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates for its Dinosaurs in Their World expansion project. The two firms were selected from a group of seven firms that competed for the project. Museum Director Bill DeWalt points out that, “E. Verner Johnson has an incredible breadth of experience working on museum projects including several for Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. We are also very pleased they have teamed up with Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann. It was very important to us to have a local company involved in this project.”

The Dinosaurs in Their World project is a $35 million expansion and renovation to create additional space for state of the art exhibits. The museum plans to use its world-class collections to create dynamic new exhibits, which, for the first time, will integrate dinosaurs into the environments of their respective time periods.

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Copyright (c) 2003 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.