The University of New Mexico’s Museum of Southwestern Biology
is a research and teaching facility in the Department of Biology of the University of New Mexico. Through its world-class natural history collections, associated databases, and staff expertise, MSB provides significant research infrastructure, meaningful undergraduate experiences, cutting-edge graduate training, and substantial public-service and outreach.
October 8, 2013
MSB Specimens are the Basis for International Genome Projects
Nancy Holroyd James Cotton of Matt Berriman's Parasite Genomics group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in UK reported that the Sobilophyme baturini (a parasitic nematode)
material provided by MSB were used to generate draft genome data as part of a larger project known as the '50 Helminth Genomes Initiative'.
Nancy reports that they have ‘finalised’ most of the genome assemblies and gene models. Next step is to build these data into a web-based resource called WormBase-ParaSite.
Then they will start to identify the major gene families both across the nematodes and platyhelminths.
The DNA from this specimen was collected as part of Anson Koehler’s (2006) master’s thesis at UNM under fieldwork through the Beringian Coevolution Project (sponsored by NSF). The new genome project demonstrates the “unintended consequences” of museum specimens, that is, these materials (if available) are often used in projects other than those originally envisioned.
Sobilophyme baturini (male and female)
Photo credit: Anson Koehler
September 27, 2013
Congratulations to Jason Malaney and his co-authors for their recent publication in Nature: http://www.nature.com/news/ecology-gene-tweaking-for-conservation-1.13790
July 26, 2013
Congratulations to Nathan Lord on the successful defense of his Ph.D. Dissertation:
16 July 2013
We are pleased to announce Special Publication #10: Birds in Corrales by J. Findley.
We are pleased to announce a new publication by Robert Dickerman and Andrew Johnson:"Notes on the Elf Owls of Trans-Pecos Texas and
Adjacent Coahuila and New Mexico". Published by the Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society, 45(1-2): 2012
7 July 2013
Andrew Hope (PhD 2011), Joe Cook (Curator of Mammals, Museum of Southwestern Biology) and collaborators published a paper in today's online version of Nature Climate Change that explores how current land management practices in Alaska might protect a series of tundra and boreal forest species of mammals under future projections of climate change. Boreal species are spreading northwards as tundra communities recede under climate change in the Arctic. Concurrently, human activities in the Arctic are increasing. This study investigates the potential future distribution of tundra species and relates the location of refugial areas to land-use practices in northern Alaska. These UNM investigators used the genetic history of these species as a basis for more rigorously projecting future trajectories for the tundra biome in Alaska. See
3 July 2013
Joseph Cook and Stephen MacDonald have published a chapter in "North Pacific Temperate Rainforests" (U of Washington Press), entitled:Island Life: Coming to Grips with the Insular Nature of Southeast Alaska and Adjoining Coastal British Columbia
Two MSB graduate students took home awards from the 2013 American Society of Mammalogists meeting in June in Philadelphia.
Brooks Kohli (MS 2013) won the Annie M. Alexander Award, the top award for a master's student. His talk was entitled: Phylogeography of a Holarctic rodent (Clethrionomys rutilus).
Jason Malaney (PhD 2013) won the A. Brazier Howell Award for his talk entitled Using biogeographic history to inform Conservation: The Case of the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse.
Congratulations to both.
UNM Alum (2011) Dr. Brittany Barker wins the BioScience Grand prize photo contest based on her work at Belen Middle Shool.
May 6, 2013
Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Museum of Southwestern Biology Graduates for 2013
Bachelor of Science
Andrea Jackson (UNO)
Donovan Jackson (UNO)
Bachelor of Science Awarded with Honors for Research in Biology
Magna Cum Laude
Steven McCormick UNO)
Nicholas Homziak (UNO)
Summa Cum Laude
Elizabeth Stone (UNO)
Master of Science Degree
Tracy Diver (Summer)
Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Nathan Lord (Summer)
May 1, 2013
Congratulations to Tom Turner, Dave Propst and their recovery team for national recognition of their efforts related to Gila Trout conservation. The entire team is
David Propst, Recovery Team Leader - Museum of Southwestern Biology
James Brooks - USFWS NM Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office
Julie Carter - Arizona Dept of Game and Fish
Jerry Monzingo - US Forest Service - Gila National Forest
Kirk Patten - New Mexico Dept of Game and Fish
Thomas Turner - Museum of Southwestern Biology
The Gila trout recovery team was selected to receive the prestigious Recovery Champions Award from the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due to their quick and thoughtful response to the Whitewater Baldy Complex Wildfire led to the protection of five species from catastrophic losses. Active for two decades, this team has implemented a recovery plan, an emergency plan, responded to wildfires, and treated non-native salmonid invasions. This recognition is part of the celebration of National Endangered Species Day in mid-May.
April 30, 2013
Congratulations to Lex Snyder, Collection Manager of the Fishes Division on achieving 20 years of service at UNM.
Congratulations to Tim Lowrey, Curator of the Herbarium on his appointment as Associate Dean for the Office of Graduate Studies.
April 25, 2013
Natural Heritage New Mexico Wins 2013 NatureServe Network
Award for Conservation Impact
17 April 2013
Stephen Ross (Stephen T. Ross is Curator Emeritus of Fishes, Museum of Southwestern Biology
at the University of New Mexico; Adjunct Professor of Biology, University of New
Mexico; and Thomas Waring Bennett Jr. Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of The Inland Fishes of
Mississippi (2001, University of Mississippi Press) has published a new book through the University of California Press: Ecology of North American Freshwater Fishes
The North American freshwater fish fauna is the most diverse and thoroughly
researched temperate fish fauna in the world. Ecology of North American
Freshwater Fishes is the only textbook to provide advanced undergraduate and
graduate students and researchers with an up-to-date and integrated view of the
ecological and evolutionary concepts, principles, and processes involved in the
formation and maintenance of this fauna.
Ecology of North American
Freshwater Fishes provides readers with a broad understanding of why
specific species and assemblages occur in particular places. Additionally, the
text explores how individuals and species interact with each other and with
their environments, how such interactions have been altered by anthropogenic
impacts, and the relative success of efforts to restore damaged
This book is designed for use in courses related to aquatic
and fish ecology, fish biology, ichthyology, and related advanced ecology and
conservation courses, and is divided into five sections for ease of use. Chapter
summaries, supplemental reading lists, online sources, extensive figures, and
color photography are included to guide readers through the material and
facilitate student learning.
Part 1: Faunal origins, evolution, and
2: Formation, maintenance, and persistence of local populations and
Part 3: Form and
Interactions among individuals and species
Part 5: Issues in
10 April 2013
AIM-UP! (Advancing the Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs) held it's third annual workshop at Harvard University 10-13 April 2013. Check out the news from the Harvard Gazette : and learn more about our efforts on the AIM-UP.org website. This effort is centered in the Museum of Southwestern Biology.
Charlie Painter, herpetologist with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and a long-time curatorial associate of MSB Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, has received an award for excellence in herpetofaunal conservation. See http://www.parcplace.org/news-a-events/haskell-award/258.html#2013 for more detail.
The Alison Haskell Award for Excellence in Herpetofaunal Conservation is presented by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), in memory of Alison Haskell (1956 – 2006). This award is intended to recognize an individual from North America whom exemplifies extraordinary commitment to herpetofaunal conservation, has been overlooked by other means of acclaim, has displayed exemplary commitment to building or strengthening partnerships, and has displayed distinguished career-long contributions to partnerships and herpetofaunal conservation.
5 April 2013
Congraulations to the following students on their poster presentations and awards:
Best Poster Presentation:
C. Jonathan Schmitt, Sabrina M. McNew, Division of
Birds, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Department of Biology, UNM, Enrique L.
Montaño, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College
Park MD, Walter Vargas Campos, Centro de Ornitologia y Biodiversidad, Lima,
Perú, and Christopher C. Witt, Division of Birds, Museum of Southwestern
Biology, Department of Biology, UNM.
Genetic Color Polymorphism and Local Adaptation in the Vermilion Flycatcher
(Pyrocephalus rubinus ).
Tracy Diver, Thomas F. Turner, and Megan J. Osborne,
Department of Biology, and Division of Fishes, Museum of Southwestern Biology,
The Evolution and Maintenance of Deeply Divergent Lineages of Red Shiner, Cyprinella lutrensis, in the Rio Grande Watershed.
Natalie A. Wright, Department of Biology and
Division of Birds, Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM, T. Ryan Gregory,
Department of Integrative Biology and the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario,
University of Guelph, Guelph, Onterio, Canada, and Christopher C. Witt,
Department of Biology and Division of Birds, Museum of Southwestern Biology,
Genome Size Evolution and Flight Ability in
CONGRATULATIONS! Dr. Jon Dunnum was recently awarded the 2013 Biological Society of New Mexico Staff Award. Jon has been the Collection Manager of the Mammal Division of the Museum of Southwestern Biology since 2006. During that period, the collection has increased tremendously in size, scope, and productivity and much of that success is due to Jon’s efforts and talents.
Jon frequently delivers “behind-the-scenes” tours of the collection, makes informal presentations at local K-12 schools, participates as a judge in local science fairs, and lectures on a variety of topics related to specimen-based research. New Mexico is not a wealthy state and most K-12 students have little connection with higher education. His presentations provide a window into UNM and higher education.
He is extremely engaged with the process of building a world-class mammal collection, an important piece of UNM’s scientific portfolio. In 2012 (like every year for the past decade), >40 peer-reviewed publications in 26 journals were based on this collection—making it one of the most productive research units on campus by that metric. Google Scholar registers >1500 citations annually for this collection, again bringing significant recognition to the Biology Department and UNM in a variety of research venues ranging primarily across the fields of molecular systematics, isotope ecology, climate change biology and pathogen discovery. In addition, at least 6 theses or dissertations from 5 institutions were completed in 2012 that utilized MSB mammal specimens.
Jon inspires our students to excel in their studies and work. He does this through a combination of a positive outlook, enthusiasm for discovery, attention to student progress, cultural sensitivity, and by providing a varied and enriching set of experiences ranging from fieldwork to all aspects of natural history collections preparation and curation. The Museum of Southwestern Biology is extremely fortunate to have talented individuals like Jon Dunnum running the show.
Congratulations to Kayce Bell, the 2013 Biology Society of New Mexico Outstanding Graduate Student! In her 3 years at UNM, Kayce has made a number important contributions to the department that broaden the impact of her efforts beyond her research on host-parasite co-evolutionary dynamics which was recently recognized by the National Science Foundation with a prestigious Dissertation Improvement Grant. She also has been heavily engaged in the NSF sponsored AIM-UP! research coordinating network in undergraduate biology education, a collaborative effort across 21 other institutions, that aims to find new ways of infusing the vast resources of natural history collections into undergraduate courses and labs. She has developed educational modules (and posted them on the web) that introduce large web-based datasets to students and then allows them to actively explore fundamental questions in ecology and evolution. She also participated in an international workshop in January in St. Louis related to developing and standardizing protocols for frozen tissue archives and genomic resources.
Kayce has mentored four undergraduate students and a PREP student (three from under-represented groups) and has been an excellent mentor and role model. One of those students is now in Vet School in Colorado and another will be starting graduate school in Michigan this fall. In summary, Kayce Bell is a talented young scientist and mentor in Biology with a demonstrated capacity for high quality research and teaching contributions within the department.
She received excellent evaluations for her efforts as a TA this last semester in Mammalogy, and previously in Tropical Biology. These qualities, combined with her interest in fundamental evolutionary questions, suggest that she has a very bright future as a scientist and educator. Already she has been elected as a student member (one of three) to the Board of Directors of the American Society of Mammalogists.
Tom Giermakowski, our amphibians and reptiles collection manager, was recently elected co-chair of the Southwest Regional Working Group for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC). Southwest PARC is organized for the purpose of implementing the PARC mission – the conservation of herpetofauna and their habitats – within the southwestern United States. PARC’s members are a diverse group from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, museums, the pet trade industry, nature centers, zoos, the energy industry, universities, herpetological organizations, research laboratories, forest industries, and environmental consultants. For more about PARC and to read their annual report visit parcplace.org.
Announcing the 2013 Joint Meeting
of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH)
Albuquerque Convention Center, 10 – 15 July, 2013
Abstracts due 31 March 2013
Early Registration 21 April 2013
MSB collection managers: (Left to right) Sandy Brantley (Arthropods),
Lex Snyder (Fishes), Andy Johnson (Birds), Jon Dunnum (Mammals),
Phil Tonne (Herbarium), Sara Brant (Parasitology), Dave Lightfoot (Arthropods), Tom Giermakowski (Herpetology), Cheryl Parmenter (Genomic resources).
23 January 2013
Our own Joe Cook has been immortalized as a tapeworm!!
Arostrilepis cooki sp. n. was named in honor of Joseph A. Cook in recognition of contributions in understanding rodent systematics and biogeography, and innovative explorations of host-parasite associations among arvicoline rodents.
The holotype (MSB Para 1244) and paratypes are held in the MSB Division of Parasitology and the symbiotype (MSB
158108), a Myodes gapperi, is held in the MSB Division of Mammals.
MAKARIKOV, ARSENY A., KURT E. GALBREATH & ERIC P. HOBERG. 2013. Parasite diversity at the Holarctic nexus: species of Arostrilepis (Eucestoda: Hymenolepididae) in voles and lemmings (Cricetidae: Arvicolinae) from greater Beringia. Zootaxa 3608 (6): 401–439.
11 January 2013
MSB collection managers did a travelling roadshow to Sandia Prep high school. Students from Dr. Chuck Buxbaum's comparative anatomy classes were given presentations on the museum and the value and utility of natural history research collections. Students were able to have a hands on experience with material from the collections, observing evolutionary traits and adaptations up close as well as getting a feel for the great biological diversity archived in the MSB collections.
6 December, 2012
Joe Cook and collaborators have two chapters in the newly published book Biology and Conservation of Martens, Sables, and Fishers: A New Synthesis.Edited by Keith B. Aubry, William J. Zielinski, Martin G. Raphael, Gilbert Proulx, Steven W. Buskirk.
Dawson, N.G., and J.A. Cook. 2012. Behind the genes: Diversification of North American martens (Martes americana and Martes caurina). Pp. 23-28.
Hoberg, E.P., A.V.A. Koehler, and J.A. Cook. 2012. Complex host-parasite systems in Martes: Implications for conservation biology of endemic faunas. Pp. 38-57.
21 September, 2012
In cooperation with the Albuquerque Mayor’s office, USGS initiated a pilot program in Albuquerque pairing high school students with USGS mentors. USGS Arid Lands Field Station museum specialist Cindy Ramotnik participated in the summer program and trained a student for 10 weeks in the care and management of natural history specimens at the Museum of Southwestern Biology. Cameron Degani, a student at Eldorado High School, got hands-on experience ranging from preparing study skins of mammals to checking sticky traps for potential museum pests.
24 August, 2012
Mongolian Vertebrate Parasite Project 2012 -
MSB doctoral students, Bryan McLean and Kayce Bell, participated in a successful mammal expedition to Mongolia from June until August. The expedition, a collaboration between UNM, University of Nebraska, and University of Kansas and National University of Mongolia aimed to survey mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptile diversity and document their associated parasites. The expedition collected at multiple localities across the Gobi Desert in southwestern Mongolia, an area heavily impacted by increasing mineral exploration and mining activity. The >1300 mammal specimens preserved included bats, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, dormice, jerboas, and an array of other small mammals. This brings the total number of Mongolian mammals at the MSB to over 3800, the largest collection of Mongolian mammals archived in North American collections.
15 August, 2012
Island Surveys to Learn about Endemic Species (ISLES), SE Alaska 2012 -
MSB undergraduate students, Randle McCain, Kelly Speer, Donovan Jackson, Galen Rask, and Candice Espinosa, recently completed mammal and parasite surveys on Heceta, Tuxekan, and White Cliff islands of SE Alaska. This project is an ongoing
cooperative effort between state and federal resource management agencies, the University of New Mexico, and public school teachers
The aim is to build a natural history archive that represents wildlife populations throughout Southeast Alaska to stimulate research and teaching efforts about the region’s incomparable wildlife, islands, and associated ecosystems (ISLES).
August 8-14, 2012
The 7th World Congress of Herpetology was held in Vancouver BC from 8-14 August on the campus of the University of British Columbia with approximately 1,700 in attendance. This meeting was jointly sponsored by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH), American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), and the Herpetological League (HL). In attendance were MSB Divisions of Fishes and Amphibians and Reptiles staff: Dr. Thomas F. Turner, Curator of Fishes, Dr. Stephen T. Ross, Curator Emeritus, Dr. J. Tomasz Giermakowski, Collections Manager of Amphibians and Reptiles, and Alexandra M. Snyder, Collections Manager of Fishes. For more information, go to News & Events
June 8, 2012
http://news.unm.edu/2012/06/unm-researchers-discover-why-birds-vary-in-rates-of-egg-production/. Jim Brown, Chris Witt and Natalie Wright investigate egg production variation in birds.
MSB houses collections of vertebrates, arthropods, plants and
genomic materials from the American West, Central and South
America, and from throughout the world. The MSB consists of eight
divisions, and two special programs (the Natural Heritage New Mexico and the USGS Arid Lands Field Station).
The Museum of Southwestern Biology’s collections are spatially extensive and temporally intensive and, thus, are among the finest biological resources currently available to scientists and educators who are interested in tackling tough environmental and health issues facing society. Our well-maintained and web-accessible archives and associated databases are poised to contribute significantly both to understanding the complexity of biological diversity and ecosystem function on local, regional, and global, scales, and to addressing critical biological problems (e.g., emerging pathogens, habitat degradation, pollution, climate change, invasive species).
1) Division of Amphibians and Reptiles: >86,602 specimens, mostly from the Southwestern United States, but with substantial numbers from other states, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Galapagos Islands. Our herpetological collections represent the largest collection of New Mexican specimens and the second largest collection of specimens from the “Four Corner” states;
2) Division of Arthropods: >200,000 preserved specimens, many from the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, but also throughout the world, with substantial concentrations of Arachnida, Myriapoda, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Orthoptera and Siphonoptera. We are the repository and processing center for two NSF-LTER programs, Jornada Basin and Sevilleta sites, both in New Mexico, and a number of National Park Service inventory projects from across the Southwest;
3) Division of Birds: >30,000 specimens which makes us the largest single collection in the American Southwest and puts us on par with all the collections in Texas, combined. We are also the only bird collection in the Southwest with a full-time Collection Manager;
4) Division of Fishes: >85,825 cataloged lots (~3.7 million specimens) making it the largest university-based fish collection in the southwestern US. The collection emphasizes long-term monitoring, ecology, and life-history of fishes inhabiting imperiled aquatic ecosystems of the desert Southwest;
5) Division of Genomic Resources: a cryogenic archive of tissue samples from vertebrates, invertebrates, parasites and DNA from other museum divisions and outside collections, it contains multiple kinds of tissue from >170,000 organisms and is worldwide in scope;
6) The UNM Herbarium: ca. 115,000 accessioned specimens of mainly vascular plants collected in New Mexico and surrounding southwestern states;
7) Division of Mammals: contains >250,000 specimens, mostly from western North America, Central and South America, and Asia, but with substantial holdings from elsewhere. Worldwide, this is the largest mammal collection centered at a university and among the 5 largest mammal collections overall;
8) Division of Parasites: contains 30,000 specimens donated by Robert Rausch and is dedicated to the concept of ‘integrated’ research collections that simultaneously provide information of pathogens, parasites, and hosts for comprehensive study of epidemiology, pathology, ecology and co-evolution of infectious diseases and hosts. This is an emerging area of research that will undoubtedly generate enormous student and researcher interest;
United States Geological Survey (USGS) Biological Surveys Collection: includes
>48,000 vertebrate specimens, primarily from public lands in the western United
States. The collection serves as a repository for specimens taken in support of
Federal research by USGS and other agencies within the Department of
Natural Heritage New Mexico: maintains databases on occurrences of native New Mexican plants and animals of conservation concern; largest database contains >23,500 observation records. Information is used by policy makers, natural resource managers, and government and business leaders to support conservation and land management decisions.
These world-class collections are used not only to investigate our planet but also to train and inspire the next generation of environmental scientists.
Each division or program sets its own policies for visitors, researchers
and data inquiries. For further information visit the appropriate
division or program web pages.
Short-horned lizard Phrynosoma hernandesii
(I. Murray), Organ Mountains (M. Weisenberger), Escobaria
organensis (T. Todsen)
Praying Mantis (S. Davidson), Coachwhip Masticophis flagellum (I. Murray), CERIA (J. Mygatt)