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MSB Bird Division Policy


Shortgrass prairie south of Clayton, New Mexico January 2007 (A. Johnson)

Requesting Loans

The Division of Birds loans specimens to established, scientifically recognized institutions for use in research projects of scientists or their graduate students.

Loan requests for avian specimens (skins, skeletons tissues) should be made in writing by the principal investigator and addressed to Christopher C. Witt . The loan request should detail the nature of the research and will be approved on a case by case basis. Graduate student loan requests must be co-signed by their faculty advisor.
Tissue loans, once approved by the Division of Birds, are to be arranged through the Division of Genomic Resources.

All loan requests should include the following information:
  • name, address, email, phone, fax
  • brief description of project
  • justification for specimen use from the MSB Division of Birds
  • species, type of specimen (skin, skeleton, tissue), any additional requirements for specimens (sex, specific localities, dates)
  • brief description of laboratory techniques and analysis methods
  • person(s) or laboratory performing analysis, if different from requestor
  • evidence of scientific skills (publications, description of experience)
Loans are made for six months. Extensions of the loan period may be granted upon request.

Loan Conditions

  • Transfers of loans by the borrower to any other institution may not be made without the permission of the Divison.
  • Loaned specimens may not be cleaned, repaired, dissected or altered in any manner without prior written permission. No alterations may be made on previous identifications unless previously approved.
  • Borrowing institutions must meet minimum standards for security, storage environment, and handling of specimens. Specimens must be protected from theft, extreme light, temperature, humidity, dust, insects, etc. The borrower is held responsible if damage or loss is due to causes reasonably under the borrower's control.
  • We control pests by freezing specimens in -20 Celsius freezer. Do not treat borrowed specimens with chemicals. Rather, we suggest isolation and inspection for pests. If you find pests, please advise collection staff: 505-277-1359.
  • Returning loans should be packed carefully to avoid damaging the specimens. We recommend using the same materials and containers in which the specimens arrived (unless damaged during transit).
  • We request that an invoice or specimen list be enclosed with the shipment and one copy be mailed separately to the Divison of Birds.
  • We reserve the right to apply special loan conditions in addition to those listed above, if the circumstances warrant.
  • The Division of Birds is acknowledged in any publications resulting from loaned material.

    Proper citation for publications: Division of Birds, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico.

  • One copy of any publication resulting from use of data or specimens housed in the Division should be sent to the Division.

Destructive Sampling Policy

Biomolecular investigations often require tissue samples, which are destructive to the specimen. These tissues include skin, feathers, bone, cartilage etc. from skins or skeletons, and frozen tissue samples.The Division of Birds acknowledges your request for destructive sampling of specimens. Our goal is to balance preservation considerations with utilization for scientific research. Before approving requests, we must judge the availability of the requested specimens and the opportunity to archive replacement material.

Destructive sampling requests for any avian materials should be directed to Christopher C. Witt for review and approval. Requests should follow the procedure outlined above for specimen loans. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Destructive sampling requests should include:

  • an estimate of the amount of material needed
  • a brief description of the extraction protocol
  • an estimate of the time required for publication

Destructive Sampling Conditions

In addition to the conditions stated above for loans, tissue requests are subject to additional terms:
  • Researchers must return unused portions of samples to the Division of Birds. Unused tissues may not be distributed to other researchers without written consent. This rule allows for maximal use of tissues and prevents loss.
  • If applicable, researchers are requested to return a portion of the extract derived from the samples (e.g., DNA, protein). Extracts may not be distributed to other researchers without written consent.
  • DNA sequences, etc. must be deposited to a database that makes information available to the public (e.g., GenBank). The accession numbers of all specimens annotated with GenBank (or another database) should also be given to the Division of Birds.
  • Researchers must bear costs associated with permits (e.g., USDA, CITES) to transport and house tissue samples. USDA requires a transport permit to posess imported tissues. A CITES Institutional permit is required to receive samples of CITES-listed Appendix I, II, or III taxa.
  • Researchers are responsible for shipping costs of tissue samples (and any other information) returned to the Division of Birds.

Information for Visitors

The Division of Birds holdings are available for study by qualified individuals. Visitors should call or email the collection manager in advance to make an appointment to use the division. The Division is open by appointment from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday, excepting University holidays. Guests are asked to sign the "guest book" located at the entrance to the Division. First time users of the Division must be trained in specimen handling before access to the collection is granted.

There is a reference library containing books that the visitor is allowed to use. All books are for reference only and may not leave the Division.

Division staff and visitors have the responsibility to ensure that the collections are protected and preserved. Please handle specimens with extreme care. It is important to treat specimens as a valuable archive that must be preserved for future generations.

Acknowledgment of Collection Use

Users of the MSB Division of Birds must acknowledge the Division in any publication that used our specimens or any data from our specimens and/or facilities.

Proper citation: Division of Birds, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico.