For this week’s discussion, I chose the preservation of a Fireweed plant versus a Northern Pike.

I had to do some extra research on the preservation of plants and fish species, since, though both are organic in nature, they involve completely different types of preservation. My first conclusion was dried preservation and taxidermy mounting for the fireweed and the pike respectively, as it is common to see both in old notebooks and souvenir shops. It is possible to preserve a fireweed specimen through the process of drying and pressing, though the colors can fade and some leaves and flowers can be bent or crumpled in the process. The plant itself will be mostly moisture free and will never wilt or rot as in this form, it can also be mounted onto a piece of paper and kept in a temperature and humidity-controlled storage area as well.

For the Northern Pike, two more common options came up: taxidermy mounting and pickling. both can be useful for long-term storage. Pickling the specimen will preserve the body and its organs for many years and can be used for more in-depth study, but this process will cause the colors to fade over time. Taxidermy would also preserve the body of the pike, but only the exterior as the bones and organs would need to be removed while the skin is taken and dried to be able to place over a mount, the colors may fade but much less so than pickling, however over time this choice may also lead to deterioration if not taken care of properly. Preservation of the articulated bones of the pike is also an option for preservation and display.

Options to create models based on both the fireweed and northern pike are optional as well, they would not be the real thing.

However, the option of “living collections” also showed up during research. As greenhouses and aquariums do already exist, it would be an effective way of showing the actual plant or animal in its living form.

Fireweed being a subalpine flower, as well as a literal weed, can grow anywhere given the right conditions and would make a nice seasonal addition to a botanical garden or environment-controlled greenhouse. Though, because it is a wildflower, it would require care and monitoring as much as any living plant. As fireweed is also seasonal perineal it will also go through a growth cycle every year.

Northern pike can be kept in a cold water aquarium tank and can be viewed alive which can offer opportunities to observe behavior and movement as well as an opportunity to admire it as the species is quite nice to look at. However, northern pike are predatory fish so keeping them in a community tank may prove difficult and as it is living they would also need constant care to maintain their health.

Would you choose to make a model of the specimen you are trying to preserve or would you try to preserve the specimen itself?

Harvard Museum of Natural History – glass flowers exhibit

3 Thoughts to “Fireweed Vs Northern Pike”

  1. Hannah Terwilliger

    This was a really interesting post! I really enjoyed reading it and, especially with how to preserve Pike. To answer you question, I think a specimen that I would like to try and preserve is actually my old strawberry plant that I received as a gift when I worked at a preschool from a student. I don’t think I could make a model out of it but preserving the plant to survive the long winters in Alaska would be very much the plan on how I would want to maintain it in it’s healthy state. Great job on the post!

  2. Maxine Laberge

    Wow, really interesting additional research was done here! Personally, I would try to preserve a specimen for collection because having the real object is more valuable than having a replication. Not only can you continue to study the original object, but it also holds it’s own story and is uniquely itself. I love going to museums because I like to see the real items in them! Going someplace to see replicas of objects is not as exciting.

  3. Korovin Ellis

    Depending on the specimen in question it might be worth both preserving the specimen and making a model. From a research perspective you want to have the original article for as long as possible, while it is usually more impactful to display the actual article. If you have a model you can potentially increase the lifespan of the article by keeping it in optimal conditions while displaying the model, or have the original article on display and then replace it with the model when you need to research it.

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