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examples from our collections.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Our Natural History Collections

The Richter Museum of Natural History contains one of Wisconsin's most significant collections of animal specimens for scientific research and education. The collection is built around an extraordinary gift from Carl Richter, a former resident of Oconto, Wisconsin, and one of the state's most prominent ornithologists. Richter's specialty was birds and bird eggs, and today the Museum ranks among the 10 largest oological (egg) collections in North America. The Museum is housed in Mary Ann Cofrin Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and has a spacious hallway display area. Specimens are catalogued and stored in metal cabinets for long term preservation.

An herbarium is a scientific collection of dried plant specimens called vouchers. The UW Green Bay Herbarium houses an extensive collection of about 35,000 voucher plant specimens mostly from Wisconsin. Our collection provide reliable records for the distribution of vascular plants and are the basis for most taxonomic publications regarding plants. Whenever you read a book that describes how to identify a plant, what kinds of places you might find it, where it is distributed in the world, and all the particulars of the plant's size, shape, colors, etc., the information has been taken in large part from herbarium vouchers. Herbaria are essential in the training of plant taxonomists, who learn to identify, name and classify plants.

Access to the scientific collections are available to researchers and to students in UW Green Bay courses such as Plant Taxonomy, Entomology, Ornithology and Mammalogy. The collection also serves as a repository for specimens obtained by biologists, resource managers and graduate students involved in field research and environmental impact reports. The UWGB Herbarium and Richter Museum are used primarily for research and is not usually open to the public. However, the curators do conduct a number of tours for groups, such as college and K-12 classes, naturalists, teachers, Learning in Retirement, civic clubs etc.. If you would like to arrange a tour of the museum for your class or group please contact one of the curators or email


Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events. Common examples include the date that migrating birds return, the first flower dates for plants, and the date on which a lake freezes in the autumn or opens in the spring. Phenological records help alert us about the events of nature and provide interesting comparisons between years and among different geographic regions. We have collected over 10 years of phenological records of important natural events in the western Great Lakes region during all months of the year. Visitors to this web site are encouraged to submit observations to If the record is the first of its kind for the current year or if it has some other special interest, it may be added to the month's phenology table. As new months are added to the archive, these tables will provide a long term data base of regional phenology for scientists, educators, and nature lovers.

Online Field Guides, Lists, Databases, and Keys

We have a number of online resources that are useful for people interested in learning more about biodiversity in the Western Great Lakes region. Our site includes a variety of types of resources that will help you to identify various species or understand more about species abundance in specific areas, including:

  • Photo rich keys that allow you to identify plants that you might find.
  • Species lists that provide descriptions and photos of species
  • Searchable species databases that allow you to generate lists of species found in certain locations and that provide bibliographic links to original scholarly citations and species descriptions.
  • Searchable photographic databases that allow you to find photographs and descriptions of various species.

Field Guides and Keys

  • Trees of Wisconsin: This site is intended as a resource for those interested in the 130 species of trees growing outside of cultivation in Wisconsin. See the text at the beginning of the key below for an explanation of the number. Cultivated species are not covered in this web site, unless they also escape and reproduce on their own. A page is provided for each Wisconsin tree species with photos and descriptions. A key and a glossary are provided to help with their identification and an introduction to tree and shrub identification is also provided for beginners.
  • Ferns of Wisconsin: Akey to all the native ferns and Wisconsin fern allies(horsetails, club mosses, spikemosses, and quillworts) within this group in Wisconsin, with photos and descriptions to help with their identification and a little more information concerning habitats occupied and their distribution in the state.

Species Lists

  • Shrubs of Wisconsin This is a complete list of all shrubs that occur in WI, excluding ornamentals. Plants are listed by Latin and by Common names and links to pages that include photos and descriptions of each species.

  • Host-Fungus Index of Wisconsin by Virginia Day and V.M.G. Nair. The Host-Fungus Index of Wisconsin is a list of all the fungi reported on plants in the State of Wisconsin, including parasitic, saprophytic, and beneficial fungi, including mycorrhyzae.

  • Mushrooms of Northern Door County: These pages illustrate the biodiversity of macrofungi that you might encounter in Northern Door County, WI. Species are arranged into assemblages based on habitat preference. Each photograph is linked to a detailed description of that species. The list is based on surveys by experienced fungi naturalist Charlotte Lukes who has collected data on macrofungi in Door County over the last 35+ years. Jump to Species List and Biodiversity by Habitat.
  • Invasive plants of Wisconsin: The plants on this list are the most serious invasive species in northeastern Wisconsin. This site is designed to provide images to help in identifying these plants. A page is provided for each Wisconsin species with photos and descriptions.
  • Wetland Plants of Wisconsin: This page is intended to provide images and descriptions for vascular wetland plants of Wisconsin. It includes approximately 200 species, including many common and important species and a few that are less common. This is by no means a complete list--the total number of wetland plants for Wisconsin is probably in excess of 700 species. The list will grow as time and the availability of images allow. The images are provided as a general reference source and to help the reader understand botanical terms necessary for plant identification.
  • Vascular plants of Wisconsin: The following vascular plants are listed here temporarily, to make them available to users until larger scale developments of the web pages are completed. A page is provided for each Wisconsin species with photos and descriptions.
  • Goldenrods of Wisconsin: As currently understood, twenty four species of goldenrods have been reported to occur in Wisconsin. Plants are listed by Latin and by common names and links to pages that include photos and descriptions of each species.
  • Asters of Wisconsin: There are a total of 30 Asters known for Wisconsin, 29 in the genus Aster plus Brachyactis ciliata (Ledeb.) Ledeb., once known as Aster brachyactis. Plants are listed by Latin and by common names and links to pages that include photos and descriptions of each species.The list also includes a few species found in neighboring states.

Searchable Databases

  • Spiders of the Great Lakes States This database is designed mainly to provide lists of spiders at the state level for Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. the database allows access to all published data, returning currently valid taxa starting from any names previously published from this region. It provides a centralized, critical compilation of known spider records from the five state region. It is searchable by taxon or geographic area, and will return currently valid names starting with any spider names ever used in regional studies. The database will be updated over time as new research is published.
  • Bird Eggs of Wisconsin: This searchable database is designed to assist in the identification of bird eggs for species that breed in Wisconsin and nearby states. Resources include color photographs of eggs, descriptions of nests and clutch size, egg measurements, and breeding distribution maps. Species nomenclature follows the most recent Checklist of North American Birds published by the American Ornithologists' Union. Images and descriptions are available for 250 species, including a few that breed in neighboring states and are likely to breed in Wisconsin and one extinct species (the Passenger Pigeon) that formerly bred Wisconsin.

Geospatial Technology

Geospatial technology is a collective term for disciplines that use spatial referencing to facilitate compilation, manipulation, interpretation and display of data. "Spatial" in this case means location relative to the earth's surface - it's not about rocket ships and black holes. Remote sensing, photogrammetry and geographic information systems (GIS) are just a few examples of disciplines that fall under the geospatial technology umbrella. The primary purpose of these pages are to provide Remote Sensing, GPS mapping and Geographic Information Systems support to the UW-Green Bay community. The site is also intended to facilitate our frequent collaborations with GIS users across the campus and in the community at-large. Select a user support category from the menu on the right.

  • Internet GIS and Web Maps: The number and variety of GIS applications on the Internet has grown to the point that desktop GIS software is sometimes overkill. If your spatial analysis and map-making needs are not too far out of the mainstream, a web-based geographic information system may be out there to meet them. Even if you can't find an Internet application that meets your needs, building your own Internet GIS may be a better option than a desktop GIS project. The availability and user-friendliness of newer web development tools is making the "do-it-yourself" option more and more attractive.
  • Desktop GIs: Software, Data and Instruction: There are several options for building, managing and utilizing geographic information systems. Desktop GIS is the only reasonably accessible option with the power to perform complex operations on large amounts of data and is the standard in the disciplines that we are preparing our students to work in. The main ingredient of a desktop GIS is locally installed software and at UW-Green Bay we are standardized on products published by Environmental Systems Research, Inc. (Esri). The Biodiversity Center has done quite a bit of work to assure that frequently-used spatial databases are available via the campus network. We've also assembled some documents that we hope will help users track down the databases that they need.