Duke Natural History Society

Flat River Impoundment 9/9/2006

Willie Duke's Bluffs 3/25/2012

Duke Forest 4/21/2012

About Us

The Duke Natural History Society (DNHS) is an informal group of people in the greater Duke community interested in nature. The group is centered on an email list where anyone can announce a field trip and invite others. There are no officers or meetings. Field trips are generally slow-paced because people are looking for everything from mosses to trees, salamanders to birds, spiders to butterflies. The group was founded by Duke Biology grad students, but you don't need to be a biologist, a student, or even affiliated with Duke to join. All that's required is an interest in the local flora and fauna. Current membership (April 2012) is 211.

The Duke Natural History Society strives to:

1) Bring people together from different groups who share an interest in natural history.

2) Get research biologists outdoors and away from their offices, libraries, computers, and benches.

3) Share enthusiasm for nature and knowledge of biological diversity with others.

4) Help local communities and organizations by participating in conservation activities.

Our Mailing List

Almost the action at the DNHS takes place on the email list, which is used for announcing and organizing natural history field trips and other related activities. To sign up for emails, follow the instructions at https://lists.duke.edu/sympa/info/natural-history

Facebook Group

The DNHS also has a new (2012) facebook group, which has trip announcements and is a better forum for some things, such as chatting, exchanging ideas for future trips, etc. To join the group, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/232974206798783/

Field Trips

We average about 12 field trip a year, mostly concentrated in spring and fall. Field trips may be announced, organized, or led by any member at any time just by sending an email to the list. Since there is no DNHS planning committee or field trip czar, there is no schedule of upcoming trips. You can read about past trips in the DNHS archives and many old trip lists are on the species lists page.

Photo Archive

DNHS members include a bunch of skilled photographers, demonstrated by photographs taken during DNHS field trips. Note that this has not been updated in a while. Send photos to Will Cook (cwcook@duke.edu) for posting. You can also easily add photos from DNHS trips to the Photos section of the DNHS Facebook group.

Eastern box turtle

Related Mailing Lists

Some taxon-specific lists for our region include Carolinabirds, Carolinaleps (for butterflies and moths), and Southeastern Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies).

See also our Natural History Links page.

DNHS History

The DNHS was formed by Josh Rose, Norm Douglas, Cait Coberly, and Tracy Feldman, all Duke Biology grad students at the time, while sitting around a picnic table outside Bio Sci on a nice fall day in 1999. This meeting built on previous conversations between Cait and Matt Cole while on an oak-identification foray earlier that year and Josh and Norm while birding at Penny's Bend on the Eno. They've all moved away from the area, but still keep tabs on the DNHS list. Carl Rothfels and Will Cook are trying to fill their shoes, but note they're only two people.

Many thanks to Sharleen Johnson for creating the original DNHS web site; to Josh Rose for providing most of the links and photos; to Roger Rittmaster, Randy Emmitt, and Patrick Coin for a few particularly good photos; to Cait Coberly, Matt Cole, Tracy Feldman, Norm Douglas, and Tania Rehse for helping Josh found and run the DNHS; and to everyone else who has made the field trips fun and worthwhile!

The essay "Summer Reassessed" by Herschel Raney sums up our attitude pretty well.