Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Virtual Science Café: Mapping Mammals, Avian Wingmen, and Life Through Mass Extinctions

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar featuring Peri Bolton, Ingrid Rochon, and Stewart Edie aired May 13, 2021, as part of the "Virtual Science Café" series. Watch a recording in the player above.


In this video, three Smithsonian scientists bring you into their world of wonder in short, "lightning-style" talks.

“Mapping Mammals: Museum Collections as Snapshots of the Past and Present” by Ingrid Rochon
Every museum specimen tells a story, and Ingrid Rochon's job as a museum technician in the Division of Mammals is to keep track of the who, what, when, and where for every one of its 600,000 specimens stored behind the scenes. By pulling together field notes, historic maps, and handwritten tags, specimen locality data helps scientists understand the distribution of life on earth and how ecosystems have changed over time. And the gaps on the map? By understanding the extent of our collections, scientists can pinpoint the places we have yet to explore.
“What Makes an Avian Wingman?” by Peri Bolton
Despite the competitive mating—and dating—world, male wire-tailed manakin birds help each other out to produce mating dance displays that enhance their chances of reproduction. Why does this occur, and what genes and brain regions are involved in producing this unusual behavior? In her talk, researcher Peri Bolton will explore the neural gene expression associated with cooperative mating display behavior in the wire-tailed manakin, and why they’re truly the best wingmen. 
“Life Through Shifting Climates and Mass Extinctions in Ancient and Modern Seas” by Stewart Edie
While the past life of dinosaurs captures the curiosity of many, for paleobiologist Stewart Edie it’s how the seemingly unassuming clams—or bivalves—were living and thriving over the past half-billion years. In his talk, he’ll share recent work on how the shells of these spectacularly diverse and ancient animals are unlocking important insight into how biodiversity responds to climate change and mass extinction.

Moderators: Naimah Muhammad and Amanda Sciandra, public programs coordinators at the National Museum of Natural History.

Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Life Science