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The Role and Uses of the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes

by J.M. Cumming


Systematics is the scientific discipline devoted to the study of biodiversity, including the collection, identification, description, and classification of organisms. Collection-based research is the backbone of systematics. The CNC has been developed primarily by systematists in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a database supporting agricultural research in a broad sense, but the collection also benefits the research programs of many agencies outside the agricultural sector.

Support for External Agencies

The Canadian Forest Survey has benefitted substantially from collection-based research on the CNC and has contributed significantly to its development, through deposition of specimens from the Forest Insect and Disease Survey and, since 1962, through secondments of personnel. Since 2007, CFIA has also contributed personnel to work at the CNC. The inventories undertaken by The Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), including work on Canada and Its Insect Fauna are based primarily on specimen data taken from the CNC. Likewise, Environment Canada's Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network derives most of its biodiversity assessment information on insects and related arthropods from the expertise associated with the CNC. In addition, CNC staff have conducted several national park surveys of insects and related arthropods for Parks Canada, and the National Capital Commission's Gatineau Park.

National Repository for Research Specimens

In addition to housing specimens of insects, arachnids and nematodes as a database for the agriculture sector, the CNC serves as a national repository for voucher specimens collected during research studies conducted by other government agencies and universities. Representative specimens from these studies are maintained so that future investigators can readily check their identity at a later date.