Sagehen Collections Program

Sagehen Basin Collections

Sagehen Creek Field Station has substantial synoptic collections of higher plants, vertebrates and insects on site, with digitized label data and specimen images available through Symbiota portals (CCH2, CSVColl, SCAN-bugs) and GBIF.

For all Symbiota portals, deselect all, then select the Sagehen collection (listed below) and hit the “search” button. On the search page, add your preferred parameters, or none to receive everything we have.

For the plant collection, you may wish to search by county to separate our Sagehen specimens (mostly Nevada County, with a very few Sierra County) from our North Fork records (all Placer County):

  • Mammals (CSVColl): “Sagehen Creek Field Station (UC-Berkeley) – Mammals”
  • Birds (CSVColl): “SCFS – Sagehen Creek Field Station (UC-Berkeley) – Birds”
  • Insects (SCAN-bugs): “Sagehen Creek Field Station (UC-Berkeley) – Insects (SCFS ENTO)”
  • Plants (CCH2): “SCFS – Sagehen Herbarium”


“Natural history collections are the largest source of data on biodiversity and mineral resources outside nature itself. Collectively, the world’s collections include about three billion specimens and document more than 300 years of active human exploration, and fossil remains provide additional glimpses into the planet’s deep biological history. Such collections and ancillary materials—including images, collectors’ notes, sequences, measurements, et cetera—contain colossal amounts of data that should be digitized and shared.

An estimated 10% of the world’s collections have been digitized, and only a portion of these are publicly accessible through the Internet.” — Alliance for Biodiversity Knowledge

The majority of Sagehen specimens were collected between 1951-1975, and largely ignored in the subsequent fifty years.

With the assistance of Erica Krimmel, a dynamic volunteer-turned-graduate-student, Sagehen began in 2011 to focus on the dark-data resource and untapped research and outreach potential of the station’s modest collections. Digitization of Sagehen collections included photographing the specimens, transcribing label data, then publishing this captured information. Gaps that emerged between the herbarium collection and our basin plant list led to targeted collecting that provides volunteer and citizen science opportunities, confirms the basin list, triggers research requests, expands the Sagehen herbarium collection, and added 16 new species to the basin plant list by 2015.

These discoveries demonstrate the surprising power of a structured collecting program in that it adds to our understanding of the basin ecology and provides new research, outreach and education opportunities, even after 65-years of unstructured collecting in the basin. The Sagehen Collections Program dovetails with our outreach programs like California Naturalist and iNaturalist, providing opportunities for community engagement. Citizen scientists are now providing us with our first-ever documentation of geo-referenced species presence and distribution in the basin, data that will help document future climate change and land management response. As of spring 2018, we are at 601 plant taxa observed and 6,725 total observations from 174 naturalists.

North Fork American River Collections

Sagehen also worked to update, digitize and consolidate the plant list, research bibliography, and historic botanical records for the North Fork of the American River, making them available online, and beginning an herbarium collection for the area that to date has collected over 200 vouchers, uncovered 17 species new to the basin list, and triggered at least 3 research requests in this sparsely used research area. Digital collections are a strategic way to encourage remote research in this logistically difficult area.

We created a citizen science project through iNaturalist for the basin that provides up-to-date species lists and observation data.

Berkeley Museums Specimens from Sagehen

Reserve Mapper: map Berkeley museum specimens and live observations from Sagehen basin, sourced from GBIF.

More Info

Major Partners: iDigBio, iNaturalist, The California Phenology Thematic Collections Network (CAP TCN), Berkeley Natural History Museums CAP-TCN, Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH2), Consortium of Small Vertebrate Collections (CSVColl), North American Network of Small Herbaria (NANSH), Berkeley Initiative on Global Change Biology (BIGCB).



Sagehen’s on site herbarium contains approximately 1700 voucher specimens from the Sagehen Basin, and 200 from the North Fork of the American River. Our herbarium data is made available through the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH2).

To access the Sagehen herbarium records:

  • Uncheck all the other collections (make sure Sagehen is still checked), then press search
  • Enter the county parameter, “Nevada” and press search

This will show almost all Sagehen records (there are a few from Sierra County), or you can search for more specific specimens using other search parameters.

Wildflower ID Tools

Downloadable iNaturalist Field Guides

Use these customized dynamic field guides in your smart device for making IDs in the (cell-phone free) Sagehen basin, using only candidates actually observed here. Guides are available for wildflowers, mammals, birds, herps, primitive plants, and more.


Approximately 160 specimen skins, plus assorted related collections (eggs, bones, nests, etc.)


Approximately 450 specimens (200 study skins, 7 pelts, 199 bone sets, 24 hair slides, 18 scat samples).


Sagehen has a small insect collection (approx. 1000 specimens), but a wealth of knowledge about the insect fauna of the basin and surrounding region, thanks to our longest running course: UC Davis’ ENT 109. Students in this semester-long course must collect and identify 200 Families of insects.

Wet specimens

Sagehen has a small teaching collection of wet specimens, including a variety of fish, herps, birds and mammals. These collections had not been digitized as of January 2020.

Direct Observation Data (& Species Lists)

Citations for Sagehen Specimens and Observations:

Always credit “UC Berkeley – Sagehen Creek Field Station” when using our collections data and/or observation records.

Also, please cite a GBIF download for our iNaturalist data! The easiest way to track research using iNaturalist is for you to download and cite a corresponding dataset from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Once per week, research grade records on iNaturalist that are licensed for re-use are shared with GBIF. If you need additional records from iNaturalist that are not available from GBIF, you can also cite a dataset downloaded directly from iNaturalist. Citing a DOI for a GBIF dataset allows your publication to automatically be added to the count of citations on the iNaturalist Research-Grade Observations Dataset on GBIF.

We suggest you also consider citing the Sagehen observation contributors, if it makes sense. More information here.

Photo Archives

Our collections include historic and contemporary photos of the basin, Sagehen teaching collections, and our various programs.

Photos are available to use under a CC x 4.0 license. Proper credit is generally (but not always):

  • For contemporary collections: “Faerthen Felix / UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field Station
  • For historic collections: “UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field Station

Please submit a reserve use application before using Sagehen photos.


Sagehen Forest Project: Part 1 – Intro