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Allosaurus  skull. Photo by Chip Clark.

Allosaurus skull.
Photo by Chip Clark

The National Museum of Natural History supports a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects, which draw together researchers from throughout the Museum and the world. These programs address topics of current societal importance such as terrestrial and marine biological diversity, global climate change, genetic research, and ecosystem modeling.

James Tyler
James Tyler with plankton scoop off the coast of
Belize. Photo by Chip Clark

The Archaeobiology Program

The Archaeobiology Program focuses on the earliest domestication of plants and animals and the initial development of agricultural economies. Director: Bruce D. Smith.

Visit the The Archaeobiology Program home page at:

The Arctic Studies Center

The Arctic Studies Center is dedicated to the study of arctic and subarctic peoples, cultures, and environments. The center includes an office at the Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska. Director: William W. Fitzhugh.

Visit the Arctic Studies Center's home page at

Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems

The purpose of this program is to document and interpret the history of terrestrial ecosystems from 400 million years ago to the present. Program scientists study the effects of environmental changes on the ecology and evolution of land plants and animals. Information from the fossil and geological record provides a unique perspective on ecological change through comparisons of past ecosystems with each other and with those of the present day. Codirectors: Anna K. Behrensmeyer and Scott L. Wing.

Visit the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program site at:

The Field Book Project

The Field Book Project is a joint initiative between the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Archives.  Our overall mission is to create one online location for scholars to visit when searching for field books and other field research materials.  This process will begin as a Smithsonian-wide initiative and lay the foundation for an online Field Book Registry comprised of content contributed by museums and research institutions from throughout the country. The field book registry will be a tool for the entire biodiversity community, and as such, we have gained the support of various partners.

Visit the Field Book Project website.

The Human Origins Program

The Human Origins Program focuses on the long history of ecosystem responses to human pressures and vice versa. Museum researchers are piecing together the climatic and ecological conditions that allowed humans to evolve. Director: Richard Potts.

Associated with the Human Origins Program is Digital Darwins, an electronic museum and lab where the newest technologies allow you to enjoy, discover and compare three-dimensional digital specimens from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and its partners.

Visit the Human Origins Program website at:

The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

The Smithsonian Marine Station (SMS) is a research center specializing in marine biodiversity and ecosystems of Florida. Research focuses on the Indian River development patterns. Research focuses on the Indian River Lagoon and the offshore waters of Florida's east central coast, with comparative studies throughout coastal Florida. The Station is a facility of the National Museum of Natural History, a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and serves as a field station which draws up to 100 top scientists and students each year from the Smithsonian and collaborating institutions around the world. These scientists investigate the plants and animals in the ocean and Indian River Lagoon and the physical processes associated with these habitats. Information uncovered at the Marine Station is published in scientific journals and forms the basis for effective public policies, conservation efforts, sustainable resource management and enlightened development patterns.

Visit the Smithsonian Marine Station's home page at

The Paleoindian Program

The Paleo-Indian Program seeks to understand the life ways of the earliest peoples of the Americans in the context of changing ecosystems at the end of the last Ice Age.   It develops and cares for the premier Paleo-Indian study collection of North America.  Director: Dennis J. Stanford

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