Research at MUSE


The Science Museum (MUSE) has traditionally carried out multidisciplinary research activities, both basic and applied, in the field of the environment with particular attention to the issue of biodiversity and ecology of mountain ecosystems. Our research in this area concerns the documentation and monitoring of species which are protected and / or threatened with extinction and the assessment of the effects of environmental and climate change on montane biodiversity in the mountains (alpine, tropical and sub-tropical).

In the field of Earth and Landscape Sciences, the museum explores the geology, morphology, and hydrology of the Alpine region in order to document and reconstruct their its evolution; it analyses the aspects related to the evolution of living organisms (vertebrate and invertebrate fossils) over geological time and studies the relationship between man and environment in an alpine setting during the period between the Late Glacial and ancient Holocene.

In addition to the well-established educational activities inherent in its institutional tasks, MUSE has an important role in the communication and dissemination of both scientific and environmental culture, in order to foster the cultural, social and economic development of well-rooted local communities and the re-emergence of identity processes in the environmental field.


Trentino System of Higher Education and Research (STAR)
The Science Museum is the only museum to be part of Trentino System of Higher Education and Research (STAR) of the Autonomous Province of Trento, having joined in 2010. As a result it is required to agree on its multiannual and annual work plan in coordination with the scientific (CTS) and evaluation (CVR) committees of the Province Department for University and Scientific Research, as part of a specific agreement (Agreement Program, L.P. August 2, 2005 n. 14 article 16). 

The Operational Plan is the planning document dedicated to the field of scientific research, relations with research networks, interaction with the local environmental and economic framework and, more generally, the relationship between science and society as regards to the cultural mediation activity carried out by the museum.

The research divisions

There are seven research divisions, Botany, Limnology and Algology, Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology, Vertebrate Zoology, Tropical biodiversity, Geology, Prehistory, with over 40 researchers in total. Their activities refer to two main thematic macro-areas:
Researchers are backed up by the cultural mediation team, who promote the research results and deal with planning and elaborations connected to the returns of higher education and cultural mediation.

For this reason, the complex network of research institutions of the Autonomous Province of Trento finds that in MUSE, qualified professional skills are capable of not only of producing scientific contents but also to convey them as well as those produced by other realities. This includes citizens involved in advanced research and who's main fields of interest fall within this territory.
Muse, a centre of excellence for research
In the field of research, MuseMUSE is recognised as a research centre of excellence for:

Studies on the documentation and conservation of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna in the alpine environment.
These studies are aimed at to the documentation and monitoring of biodiversity in Trentino, the creation of databases (mainly insects and vertebrates), checklists, red lists and the development of predictive models of the distribution of biodiversity in protected and urbanised areas.

Studies on the effects of climate and environmental changes on natural ecosystems and biodiversity in an alpine environment.
These studies are carried out using a basic and experimental research designed to evaluate the effects of various factors on alpine biodiversity, to develop predictive models regarding biodiversity trends in relation to these factors, define new natural biomarkers, and assess alpine species' risk of extinction. Research in progress into springs, glacial streams, proglacial plains forelands and rock glaciers in relation to the retreat of glaciers retreating and global warming is of particular relevance at the national and international level.

Studies on ex-situ conservation, propagation, cultivation and reintroduction of Alpine plant species (seed banks).
These studies are designed to maintain a centre for long-term conservation of germplasm of wild alpine plants at the risk of extinction, wild relatives of cultivated plants and old or underutilised varieties of cultivated plants. Tropical species have recently been added to the collection of local species, giving the MUSE seed bank international significance.
Studies on biological diversity and the conservation of tropical and sub-tropical regions.
These studies include the inventory of biological diversity in little known or unexplored areas, with subsequent analysis of biogeographic patterns and dynamics of speciation, the study of population and ecological modelling of key species of forest ecosystems. Most of the activities are focused in the areas of montane rainforest in Tanzania, which are part of one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world (Eastern Afromontane) and where the MUSE has its own territorial headquarters.

Ichnological and paleontological studies.
These studies aim to quantify the presence of dinosaurs and other terrestrial reptiles in Trentino,  identify paleontological sites and study their distribution in space and time, and explore ways to conserve and develop them for public use. Thanks to its expertise in this area, MUSE receives requests for assistance consultancy or intervention from important foreign scientific institutions.

Geological studies.
These studies include documentation of the geodiversity of the area aimed at better understanding the relationships between the natural environment and the historical dynamics of anthropogenic modification. This research is highly relevant at the local level, and is also associated with the preparation of geological maps and documents for the prevention of geological risk.

Studies on speleothems and meteoric waters in caves.
These studies aim to reconstruct climatic variations in Trentino through the sampling and study of calcite and underground waters, and the monitoring of underground-soil in Trentino's caves.

Prehistorical studies.
This research focusses on the first Alpine human population (Late Glacial and ancient Holocene period), highlighting the close relationship between the patterns of land use and the social organisation of human groups, and the reconstruction of ancient landscapes. The prehistoric art uncovered in prehistoric sites in Trentino are of particular value.

Studies into the relationship between nature, science and society.
These studies look into the connections between scientific and technological innovation and their social implications, with particular reference to the sustainability and applications of biological and environmental science. These studies, conducted as part of an international network, they help to establish relationships between who produces, uses, and governs the innovation in order to support the role of MUSE as the main reference point for the world of knowledge which is accessible by all.

MUSE research has a strong impact at the local level, as it is able to provide useful information for environmental management, including tourist destinations. For several years now, researchers at MUSE have been involved in wildlife planning at various scales and in the drafting of action plans for species, habitats and environments.

At the same time, MUSE research has gained national and international significance, as demonstrated by the participation in conferences and convention meetings, it is the scientific and educational public science publications (an average of 60 per year) and its the inclusion participation in to European projects and networks.

Finally, MUSE research results are also in relation with and supported by the growth of the collections, witnesses of human and natural diversity in time and space, important research tools made available to for the scientific community (to date MUSE keeps 300 collections and over 4.5 million artifacts, covering a time span of over two centuries).
MOA (Muse Open Archive) is the institutional repository that collects and documents the scientific production of the Science Museum. Active since 2014, it contains bibliographic information regarding scientific and educational publications and the registry of research projects, exhibitions and activities for the public involving the museum's scientific departments. The aim is to improve the visibility of the activities and the dissemination of research results.