Profiles from the Peninsula - The San Diego Natural History Museum

Profiles from the Peninsula is a series dedicated to spotlighting the partners who make up the Baja Working Group, and their projects. This week’s profile is on The San Diego Natural History Museum and their longstanding efforts to study and share knowledge about the diversity of the Californias.


Puedes leer este blog en español aquí.


Profiles from the Peninsula is a series dedicated to spotlighting the partners who make up the Baja Working Group, and their projects. Each week, we will bring you a new profile in the form of a blog like this one. More information about the working group can be found here


The San Diego Natural History Museum, also known as the Nat, was founded in 1874. Back then, its name was the San Diego Society of Natural History. The Nat as we know it today, continues to be a natural history society for the region, as well as a  physical space for learning. Located in the iconic Balboa Park since 1933, the Nat made a name for itself as a local gem that focuses primarily on promoting the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the Baja California Peninsula—two regions deeply connected ecologically and culturally. 



The Nat is home to the Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias, which leads efforts to preserve scientific specimens that document the biodiversity of Southern California and the Baja California Peninsula. The Center’s impressive collections support scientists in their research efforts. The Nat’s longstanding tradition of participating in scientific expeditions that lay the groundwork for the conservation of natural areas is a central part of these research efforts. 



Alongside peers from both sides of the border, the Nat conducts biological expeditions along the Baja California Peninsula. These expeditions are part of a larger effort to document the unique and diverse biology of the region, so that this data can be used by local stakeholders to inform conservation efforts. For example, in collaboration with Mexico’s National Commission on Biodiversity (CONABIO) and Terra Peninsular, the Nat has been leading efforts to describe the biodiversity and conservation landscape of the Baja California Peninsula. You can read more about that effort and see the full report here



According to Nat Vice President of Science and Conservation Michael Wall, they are involved in a number of ongoing binational collaborations. “Currently,” he explained, “we are working together with our Mexican colleagues on understanding endemism in coastal dunes systems, rare plant population status and seed-banking, habitat restoration and translocation of the red-legged frog, and a variety of projects involving the conservation of rare birds and small mammals.” The Nat’s experience monitoring and measuring changes in species distributions over time is invaluable at a time when understanding baselines and ecosystem changes at a local scale plays an essential role in adaptive management efforts. 



The Nat’s accessible series of talks and lectures is a great place to hear from the scientists themselves, ask them questions. Or, you can explore past talks, some of which are in Spanish. If you’re looking to go out and explore the region, you can rely on the Nat’s extensive field guide, which includes illustrated guides, checklists for both San Diego and Baja, places to explore, and educational materials on a variety of natural history topics. 


The Climate Science Alliance is a proud partner of the San Diego Natural History Museum and collaborates with ongoing educational efforts such as our Climate Kids Traveling Trunks located at the Museum’s Nature to You Loan Program. To learn more about how to participate, please visit: https://www.sdnhm.org/education/nature-to-you-loan-program/.


All photographs taken by Michael Wall

The Baja Working Group is a collaboration between the Climate Science Alliance and the International Community Foundation. Learn more here.

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