The influence of sample-collection-time on the recovery of culturable airborne microorganisms using a low-flow-rate membrane-filtration unit and a high-flow-rate liquid impinger were investigated. Differences in recoveries were investigated in four different atmospheric environments, one mid-oceanic at an altitude of ~10.0 m, one on a mountain top at an altitude of ~3,000.0 m, one at ~1.0 m altitude in Tallahassee, Florida, and one at ~1.0 m above ground in a subterranean-cave. Regarding use of membrane filtration, a common trend was observed: the shorter the collection period, the higher the recovery of culturable bacteria and fungi. These data also demonstrated that lower culturable counts were common in the more remote mid-oceanic and mountain-top atmospheric environments with bacteria, fungi, and total numbers averaging (by sample time or method categories) <3.0 colony-forming units (CFU) m -3. At the Florida and subterranean sites, the lowest average count noted was 3.5 bacteria CFU m-3, and the highest averaged 140.4 total CFU m-3. When atmospheric temperature allowed use, the high-volume liquid impinger utilized in this study resulted in much higher recoveries, as much as 10?? greater in a number of the categories (bacterial, fungal, and total CFU). Together, these data illustrated that (1) the high-volume liquid impinger is clearly superior to membrane filtration for aeromicrobiology studies if start-up costs are not an issue and temperature permits use; (2) although membrane filtration is more cost friendly and has a 'typically' wider operational range, its limits include loss of cell viability with increased sample time and issues with effectively extracting nucleic acids for community-based analyses; (3) the ability to recover culturable microorganisms is limited in 'extreme' atmospheric environments and thus the use of a 'limited' methodology in these environments must be taken into account; and (4) the atmosphere culls, i.e., everything is not everywhere. ?? 2010 US Government.