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MSB General Information


The Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB) is a research and teaching facility in the Department of Biology, University of New Mexico (UNM). It is physically located in the new Center for Environmental Research, Informatics & Art (CERIA) building on the campus of UNM (formerly the old bookstore).

MSB houses collections of vertebrates, arthropods, plants and genomic materials from the American Southwest, Central and South America, and from throughout the world. It is primarily a research museum, although tours of the facility can be scheduled by appointment.

The MSB consists of ten divisions, one special program (the USGS Arid Lands Field Station) and an inter-divisional program in biodiversity informatics.

General Contact Information

Hours: 8:00 am-5:00 pm (MTZ) Monday - Friday
Phone: +1-505-277-1360
Fax: +1-505-277- 1351

MSB Director:
Joseph A. Cook, Ph.D., +1-505-277-1358, email: cookjose

Unit Admin II:
Catherine Osborn, +1-505-277-1360


Mailing Address Shipping Address
(UPS, FedEX, Airborne, DHL)

Museum of Southwestern Biology
MSC03 2020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM, USA 87131-0001

UPS: University of New Mexico
302 Yale Blvd NE

CERIA 83, Room 204
Albuquerque, NM, USA 87131

FedEx, Airborne, DHL:

University of New Mexico

CERIA Bldg 83, Room 204

Albuquerque, NM 87131


Visiting the Museum

MSB is open by appointment Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm. We have a Tour Visit Request form to facilitate tours and visits to the MSB. Please remember when making your request that the MSB is a research facility. At this time there are no standard exhibit areas, also, the MSB is unable to accommodate large groups.

Directions to the CERIA Building:
MSB is on the UNM campus in the CERIA building (building 83), also known locally as "the old bookstore." The main door to CERIA is on SW side of the building facing the fountain (Castetter Hall, the home of the biology department, is the building on the SW side of the fountain).

To locate CERIA, orient from the intersection of Central Ave & Yale Blvd. From here, continue north onto campus along Yale Blvd, cross Redondo South Dr. and continue along the promenade until you reach the fountain. CERIA is the building NE of you.

Click here to bring up a Google street map of the area surrounding the SW portion of campus superimposed over a satellite image. CERIA is the roughly triangular building NW of the dot above where it says "Yale Blvd NE" in white. Note that where it says "Yale Blvd NE" is a walkway, not a road.

Click here to get a UNM campus map (pdf, 354kb). CERIA is building 83 in H-4.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Click here to get a map showing where UNM is in relation to Albuquerque, NM, I-25, and I-40.

Nearby Public Parking:
All-day parking is available in a number of lots along Yale Blvd, south of Central Ave (~2$/day). There is also metered parking on campus along Redondo Dr. and along Central Ave. A visitors parking pass may be obtained at Parking Services at the NW corner of Central Ave. & University Blvd. for ~3$/day that will allow you to park on campus.

In addition there is a new large parking structure on campus along Redondo South Blvd., east of the intersection of Central Ave & Yale Blvd. You can get to this structure by turning north from Central Ave. at Stanford Dr.


Museum Courses

The MSB, through the Biology Department, offers courses in bird specimen preparation co-taught  by Asst Professor Chris Witt and the Bird Division Collection Manager, Andy Johnson. For the first time in the Spring 2012 semester,the MSB is conducting a course in Natural History Collections Curatorial Techniques taught by Assoc Prof Kelly Miller. The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles has also offered a course in GIS mapping techniques co-taught by Prof Howard Snell and Collection Manager Tom Giermakowski.

History of the Museum

The Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB) originated from the collecting efforts of Edward F. Castetter beginning in 1928. Formal management and maintenance of the collections began in 1938 when William J. Koster (1910-1993) joined the University of New Mexico faculty. Koster became the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) first instructor of vertebrate zoology. His classes collected New Mexico vertebrates and began to assemble the earliest natural history collections of vertebrates. Early collections of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates were housed in Castetter Hall on the main campus. Beginning in late 2001, collections were moved to the Center for Environmental Research, Informatics and Art (CERIA) Building. The grand opening of the new MSB facility was celebrated on October 8, 2006.


The Division of Amphibians & Reptiles


   The Division of Amphibians & Reptiles maintains one of the largest research collections in the western United States. A collection of 5,000 amphibians and reptiles made by William J. Koster formed the basis of the original collection. However, with the arrival of William G. Degenhardt in 1960 from Texas A&M University, a dramatic increase in holdings occurred. Through Degenhardt's own collecting efforts and those of his classes and graduate students, the division grew rapidly in size during the 1960s and 70's. Since the late 1980s, the division has become the primary repository for specimens collected as part of expanding research on the State's herpetofauna by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and continues to receive herpetological collections provided by researchers from a variety of state and federal agencies. These extensive collections and the increased knowledge of New Mexico's herpetofauna resulted in the publication of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico (1996) by W.G. Degenhardt, C.W. Painter & A.H. Price.

   Currently, there are more than 73,000 specimens mostly from the Southwestern United States, primarily from New Mexico and Texas. However, substantial numbers of specimens from elsewhere in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean region, the Galapagos Islands, and Vietnam are also included. The division maintains representative skeletal material, a small type collection, and a collection of uncatalogued specimens for teaching purposes. Other important collections in the division's holdings are from the Big Bend National Park by W.G. Degenhardt and T.L. Brown (all taxa), the Appalachian Plateau by G.B. Wilmott (salamanders), the West Indies by K.L. Jones (leptodactylid frogs), and the Delmarva Peninsula by R. Conant (all taxa).


Division of Arthropods

   The Division of Arthropods maintains a collection of arthropods representing New Mexico, the Southwest, and northern Mexico, although material from other parts of the world is included mainly in relation to faculty research projects. The Division of Arthropods was initiated by UNM ecologist and curator Dr. Clifford Crawford in the 1970s as a small support collection for arthropod-related ecological research studies. The collection housed several hundred specimens in small storage cabinets in a laboratory room.  In 1989, the Division of Arthropods became affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, and became a repository for voucher specimens representing ecological research. At that time the “insect collection” expanded to several thousand specimens, several more storage cabinets, and was housed in its own small room (200 ft2 ) in the basement of Castetter Hall (the Biology building). The division was staffed by one part-time graduate student with a very small annual budget. When Dr. Crawford retired in the mid-1990’s Dr. Manuel Molles became the curator and oversaw continued growth of the collection, including the move into renovated space in the CERIA building in 2002.

   From 1992 - 2002 the Arthropod Division grew to become the repository and support facility for a number of additional NSF, US Geological Survey, and National Park Service ecological inventory and monitoring research projects throughout New Mexico and Arizona, based largely upon collaborations with the Sevilleta and the Jornada Basin LTER programs. Funding from those various research projects provided equipment and storage cabinets, and salaries for temporary staff and technicians to work in the division, and to develop the collection. The division also became a center for species identification, and developed a network with other taxonomists and ecologists in North America.

      NSF funding of the renovation brought all the MSB divisions together in a building with compactor storage for specimens, and increased lab and preparation space. The Division of Arthropods now has separate wet and dry collection rooms and work spaces. With additional support from NSF and the New Mexico state-sponsored Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the Division of Arthropods gained a permanent collection manager position currently filled by Dr. Sandra Brantley and Dr. David Lightfoot, who had been involved with much of the previous ecological research and the development of the collection. In collaboration with Western New Mexico University, New Mexico State University, and Eastern New Mexico University, the Division of Arthropods has taken the lead in developing a Biological Collections Information Management System (BCIMS) which is in use by arthropod collections throughout the state to database their specimen records.

     Today the division collection has grown to over 100,000 specimens. Dr. Kelly Miller became curator in 2007 (Dr. Molles retired in 2005) and with his arrival, the Division of Arthropods is quickly becoming an active center for systematic research on the taxonomy of many different arthropod groups not only in the Southwest but globally.

Division of Birds


   The Division of Birds maintains an extensive research collection of birds from western North America and around the world. Specimens collected in New Mexico by William J. Koster in 1938 formed the basis of the original collection. The collection consisted of only a couple of hundred study skins of birds from New Mexico until 1955, when James S. Findley became curator upon his arrival at UNM. Over 3000 specimens were added over the subsequent 13 years, due in large part to the work of graduate student David M. Niles during the 1960's. J. David Ligon began as curator in 1968, and although his research program focused on behavior, he oversaw the addition of 3000 specimens over 21 years, including spectacular series of Pinyon Jays and other corvids.  

   Robert W. Dickerman took over as curator in 1989 after retiring from Cornell Medical School, and the collection increased fourfold over the subsequent 18 years through field collecting, salvage, acquisition of private collections, and the integration of the USGS Collection. In 2003, Andrew B. Johnson was hired as the first fulltime collections manager. In 2007, Christopher C. Witt was hired as curator and initiated a research program on the evolution of Andean birds that resulted in significant new accessions of specimens from Peru. Total size of the collection is now over 28,000 specimens, approximately 20% of which are associated with frozen tissue samples that are archived in the Division of Genomic Resources.


Division of Fishes


 In 1952, William J. Koster moved his jars of fishes along with the dry collections from the basement of the Department of Biology, UNM student viewing fishes c. 1940sprotecting the collections from recurring flooding problems. Once the Department hired curators for the Divisions of Mammals, and Amphibians and Reptiles, Koster was able to devote more time to his research on the life histories of some New Mexico fishes while expanding the collection’s holdings. He also completed a layperson’s Guide to the Fishes of New Mexico in 1959 and had hoped to follow this with a more technical volume on the ichthyofauna of New Mexico. Unfortunately, a serious accident in 1960 dramatically curtailed his ability to perform field work for the rest of his career.

   By the time William J. Koster retired in 1975, the “UNM Collection of Vertebrates” had grown and collectively became the Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB). Despite this formal recognition, Koster understood the tenuous quality of university support for natural history collections and realized he needed to secure the future of the fish collection at the University of New Mexico. Therefore, he warned the University that unless a curator of fishes was hired to replace him, he would send the collection of 250,000 New Mexico fish specimens to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The University administration complied with his wishes and maintained a faculty position that would include part-time curatorial duties. In 1975, Manuel C. Molles, Ph.D. whose research included reef fishes, invertebrate community structure, and changes in global climate was hired to assume these duties and continued to do so until 1998 when he became Curator of Arthropods.

S.P. Platania, MSB Division of Fishes, 1991    In 1986, Steven P. Platania came to New Mexico to study the distribution of native New Mexico fishes and assumed curatorial duties as an Associate Curator in the MSB Division of Fishes. He established an Ichthyofaunal Studies Program, which continues today, employing students in both the museum and biological fields. Under his direction, the collection underwent a phase of rapid growth. It has served as the primary repository for not only his collections, but also large collections received from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Resource Office in Albuquerque, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

   In 1992, Platania hired a full time Collections Manager to keep pace with the increasing curatorial demands and to establish a protocol for the care and maintenance of the specimens. By 1995, the collection was fully captured in an electronic catalogue. In 2000 a full-time Data Manager was hired to manage the large (and ever increasing) data set for the large San Juan River collections. These data have been integrated into the main collection catalog.

   Thomas F. Turner assumed the position of Curator of Fishes in 1998 and the collection entered a new phase of growth in terms of its genomic holdings for rare and extirpated species like the Rio Grande silvery minnow and the Gila trout. Turner has focused his research on the fishes of the American southwest, studying the ecological and biogeographic determinants of population structure and the molecular systematics of these fishes. Through these research activities, Turner and his graduate students are able to add more to the information on the conservation biology of desert fishes.


   In January 2001, the MSB Division of Fishes moved to a newly renovated building across from the UNM Department of Biology, Castetter Hall. By the time the collections were moved, the numbers of jars of MSB fishes greatly exceeded the stationary shelving space available in the old basement facility (84.5 m2) of Castetter Hall. Approximately 30% of the catalogued lots of fishes were stored in boxes and plastic 8- and 15-gallon barrels. Collections were also stored at the Fisheries Resource Office (USFWS-FRO) in Albuquerque and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) in Santa Fe. All collections are integrated and stored on mobile shelving units (compactors) in a 473 m2 room maintained at 18 oC and dark when not in use. The move and associated curation of the collection was funded by an award from the National Science Foundation.

Division of Genomic Resources

   Beginning in 1979, the Division of Mammals began saving ancillary collections that would form the beginnings of the Division of Genomic Resources. These new collections are the nucleus of what is now one of the largest collections of frozen mammalian tissues (heart, liver, kidney, spleen, etc) in the world in the Division of Genomic Resources at MSB. A large percentage of the MSB collection of mammals and (since 1995) birds now consists of "holistic" or integrated voucher specimens that include not only skins and skulls but postcranial skeletons and frozen tissues and in many cases chromosome preparations, frozen cell suspensions, and endo-, ecto-, and protozoan parasites. The parasite material has been archived primarily at the Manter Lab at the University of Nebraska, the USDA National Parasite Collection (Beltsville, MD), Smithsonian Institution, and more recently the Division of Parasites at MSB. These collections are growing rapidly and have experienced continual and rapid usage.




   The UNM Herbarium was established in 1928 with the arrival of Edward F. Castetter, professor  and chair of the Department of Biology as well as the first curator of the herbarium. The herbarium was located in the basement of the Biology Building (later named Castetter Hall) in room 1. The small existing collection consisted of approximately 150 mounted specimens, mostly collected by E.O. Wooton, P.C. Standley, and O.B. Metcalfe.  Castetter  immediately began collecting specimens around the Albuquerque area, Sandia Mountains and the Jemez Mountains. Throughout the late1920s up to the early1970s he collected more than 8200 specimens from 27 counties in New Mexico and numerous specimens from the surrounding southwest.

   Castetter was a pioneer ethnobotanist of the American Southwest and his research on Native Americans took him to remote areas in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico. Castetter authored several books on Native American agriculture and the cultural aspects of plant usage. In 1961, the year of his retirement, the Castetter Laboratory of Ethnobotanical Studies was established and housed within the Herbarium.  In addition to his many ethnobotanical studies, Castetter became interested in the Cactus family and collected many cactus specimens between 1951-1969. Ray C. Jackson (1953-1958) was the second curator of the Herbarium. Jackson’s research focused on cytogenetics  and systematics of the Asteraceae and Scrophulariaceae. He published numerous scientific articles in national and international scientific journals.

   William C. Martin (1958-1989) was the third and longest serving curator of the Herbarium to date. Martin collected more than 3500 specimens in addition to co-authoring A Flora of New Mexico with Charles R. Hutchins in 1980. By the end of Martin’s tenure, there were approximately 77,000 specimens in the herbarium. In 1990 Timothy K. Lowrey became the 4th curator of the Herbarium. Dr. Lowrey  initiated efforts to create an electronic database of the collection. Lowrey’s international research program has involved biosystematics of the Asteraceae in Hawaii and the South Pacific. Within the first 12 years as curator, Dr. Lowrey procured a number of grants that have greatly benefited the herbarium. In 1996 a grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded for relocating and compactorizing the Museum of Southwestern Biology’s (MSB) collections. In 1997 Lowrey became the 4th Director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology. During this time, the former UNM bookstore was being renovated and the museum was preparing to move. In October 2000, the herbarium closed its doors to visitors and a complete reorganization of the collections was accomplished prior to moving by mid-December. By January 2001 the herbarium had completed its move and reopened its doors in the newly renovated facility.

   By 2002, an intensive phase of database development and specimen label entry was initiated by funds received from the Institute of Natural Resource Analysis and Management (INRAM). INRAM was established with funding from the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) award. By 2004 the collection was fully databased and georeferencing of the collection is ongoing. EPSCoR funding discontinued by 2005, and in 2007 INRAM Biodiversity obtained funds from the UNM College of Arts and Sciences, UNM Biology Department and the MSB to overhaul INRAM Biodiversity and form a new autonomous web presence as the New Mexico Biodiversity Collections Consortium (NMBCC). The new site went live in late 2007 with data from the state’s natural history museums (University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University, and Eastern New Mexico University) available to the scientific community and general public in a searchable geospatial format accessible via the Internet.

Mammal Division

   The mammal collections grew slowly until 1955 when James S. Findley assumed duties as curator of mammals. Between 1955 and 1978 more than 36,000 specimens were added to the collection. In 1978, Dr. Findley was appointed Chairman of the Biology Department and Director of the MSB and Dr. Terry L. Yates was appointed Curator of Mammals.

   The initial focus of the collection was regional with Findley and his students conducting research on mammals of New Mexico and the southwest. In 1959, Arthur H. Harris assembled a distributional checklist of New Mexican mammals. In the years that followed, Findley received financial support from UNM and the NSF to continue his research on southwestern mammals, including bats. During this period the MSB acquired significant collections of mammals from Costa Rica, Panama, Africa, and Mexico through the research activities of Dr. Findley and his students. The division also began a major educational program in mammalian ecology and systematics during this period at the graduate and undergraduate levels and 60 students received graduate degrees under the direction of Dr. Findley. He continues his research program in the MSB as Curator Emeritus.

   The hiring of Dr. Yates as Curator of Mammals in 1978 added new dimensions to the mammal collections. With support from UNM and the National Science Foundation (NSF), Yates and his students added major collections from Japan, much of North America, Scandinavia and from a NSF survey of the mammals of Bolivia in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History. That project resulted in major additions of Bolivian mammals and comparative samples from Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras. In 1989, UNM Biologists received support to establish a long-term ecological research site (LTER) on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge and series of local mammals have been added each year to the MSB collections since that time, accompanied by large amounts of ecological and climatic data.

  Dr. Joseph Cook was appointed Curator of Mammals in 2003 and his student-based research program continues the tradition of Findley and Yates. Significant new materials from northwestern North America and Asia (including the incomparable Robert Rausch collection) are now being added to MSB. More than 32,000 specimens from the orphaned University of Illinois Museum of Natural History mammal collection were recently donated to the Museum of Southwestern Biology. Specimens in this collection cover a temporal range of over 100 years, are worldwide in scope, and are diverse taxonomically (230 species in 20 mammalian orders).  Strengths include a) holotype specimens from the southwestern US; b) over 22,000 Arizona specimens; c) critical historic specimens of endangered taxa (e.g. the federally endangered Mexican Grey Wolf, Canis lupus baileyi); d) specimens from localities where natural habitat no longer exists in the Southwest; and e) specimens from regions which are particularly susceptible to global climate change (e.g. Alpine and Arctic specimens). These new specimens significantly enhance the strengths of the Museum of Southwestern Biology collections, temporally, geographically and taxonomically. Many of these specimens form the basis for scientific publications (e.g., Mammals of Arizona - Hoffmeister, 1986). With the addition of these specimens, the Mammal Division becomes the fourth largest scientific collection of mammals in the Western Hemisphere.

Natural Heritage New Mexico Division


   Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM) conducts conservation biology research and training, collects data on New Mexico’s rare and endangered animals, plants, and ecosystems, and is a portal for acquiring and disseminating biodiversity conservation information for New Mexico and the Southwest.  The program was established in the Biology department in 1991 as part of an initiative by then UNM Provost Paul Risser in collaboration with the Science Division of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a national conservation organization based in Arlington, VA.  The era of Paul Riser was to make UNM part of the national network of natural heritage programs and conservation data centers in the United States.  The objective of the network is to collect and manage data about the status and distribution of species and ecosystems of conservation concern and then provide science-based information to guide conservation policy from local to international scales.  TNC provided initial first-year seed monies, and the program began receiving funding from the state legislature as a Research and Public Service Project (RPSP) in 1992. 

   Dr. Patricia Mehlhop, an adjunct faculty member at UNM with previous experience directing the Heritage program at the University of Oklahoma, became the first director in 1991.  Building on a core staff of herself as a rare species zoologist, a rare species botanist (Ellen DeBruin), conservation ecologist (Dr. Esteban Muldavin), and a database manger (Tina Carlson), the program grew to include roughly 15-20 staff and students by 2001.  In 2001, Dr. Kristine Johnson, Research Associate Professor of Biology, became director, and Dr. Esteban Muldavin, Research Associate Professor of Biology and conservation ecologist, followed in 2008.  Along the way, the national network of Heritage programs left TNC in 2001 and established itself as its own organization, NatureServe, which UNM, through Natural Heritage New Mexico, remains a contributing and active member along with 82 other independent centers from U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. 

In 1999, the program was brought into the Museum as a division specializing in conservation biology with the director serving in the Curator’s role for the database and associated research and education activities.  The Curator specifically oversees the collection of core biological conservation data in NMBiotics, a version of the international data standard for Natural Heritage data. The database has information on which species are tracked, what their conservation ranks and status are and where they are located. Starting in 2000, paper map locations were digitized and incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) so conservation data could be analyzed spatially. Currently, the Division tracks data on almost 700 rare and endangered species and has data on over 30,000 observations for these species.  An associated Conservation Ecology database houses over 10,000 vegetation plots from around the Southwest with some 150,000 botanical observations backed by over 7,500 voucher specimens.  The Division also houses other biological conservation databases such as the New Mexico Biological Collections Consortium (NMBCC) and the New Mexico Ornithological Society (NMOS) Field Notes database.  Most of the data is now available via websites that NHNM creates and maintains.

   Early on, the Division was concerned mainly with the development of the database, but from about the mid-90’s activities expanded to include research on the conservation of specific species, ecological restoration, the meta-analysis and assessment of the conservation status of biota across the state and the region.  The Division was also able to expand educational opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate student, particularly in hands-on training in databases, field data collection, and GIS.  In addition, NHNM has developed a unique and extensive network of private and public partners to support the Division conservation science database and research.  These include the federal land management agencies (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Dept. of Defense, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), and state agencies with jurisdiction in the management of the State’s biota (Game & Fish Dept., Energy Mineral and Natural Resources Dept., and the Environment Dept.).  The Division continues to grow and is developing new initiatives with its partners in the arena of the impacts of global change on species and ecosystems at risk in New Mexico and the Southwest.


Division of Parasites

   Initiation of the new Parasitology Division at the Museum of Southwestern Biology in January 2008 builds on the core represented by the considerable holdings of the Robert and Virginia Rausch Collections, those of the Beringian Coevolution Project and ongoing research on schistosomes in Dr. Sam Loker’s laboratory. Dr. Loker is the first Curator of Parasites and Dr. Sara Brant is the founding Collection Manager.


United States Geological Survey Collections

   The United States Geological Survey (USGS), Biological Resources Division (BRD) manages two significant collections of vertebrates. One, and by far the larger, is the collection of vertebrates curated and maintained by BRD staff in the National Museum of Natural History in the Smithsonian Institution. By long-standing agreement between USGS and its predecessor  agencies (e.g., NBS, Bureau of Biological Survey, BBS, and Fish and Wildlife Service, FWS) full-time curatorial staff of BRD curate and maintain the North American collections of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles in the Smithsonian Institution. This western collection was started in support of predator food habits studies conducted by BBS in the late 1920's. At this time the collection was located with the Denver Food Habits Laboratory of the BBS. During the first almost 50 years of its existence growth was slow and remained primarily in support of applied studies. By 1974, specimens of mammals totaled about 4,000.

In 1975, as a result of changes in administration and research priorities, the collection was moved to Fort Collins and directly administered by Dr. Robert B. Finley, Jr. During the next six years prior to Dr. Finley's retirement the collection more than doubled in size, to about 10,000 specimens. Most of the new holdings were from research studies conducted on Federal lands in the West, a research emphasis that has continued to the present time.

   In 1981, Dr. Michael A. Bogan was relocated from the National Museum of Natural History, where he was a Curator of Mammals for FWS and Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution, to Fort Collins and assigned the lead curator role in the western collection. In the 1987 survey of North American mammal collections (Yates et al., 1987) this collection (Biological Survey Collection-Fort Collins; BS/FC) was noted as having one of the largest percentage growths during the survey period and was ranked within the top 50 collections in size. This growth has continued with the collection doubling in size again in 1992; it now contains over 23,000 specimens of dry and fluid-preserved mammals.

The BRD collection is particularly rich in specimens from western Federal lands, especially Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. The collection serves as a repository for specimens taken by or in support of Federal research in the West. In January of 1994, the collection of mammals was relocated to the University of New Mexico and a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by UNM and NBS.  The western collections of the NBS are currently being integrated with those of the MSB. With the incorporation of the BRD collections, MSB mammal holdings are a major research resource and additionally serve as an important training center for students in organismal biology.


Staff Descriptions

Curators have the authority to make final decisions regarding divisional activities and policies. The Curator also is responsible for providing funding to the museum, and to represent their division to the university administration and general public.

Collection Managers are responsible for the daily museum operation, and provide supervision for museum staff. The Collection Managers maintain the collection, database, and all of the museum facilities. The Collection Managers work closely with the Curator to make decisions regarding museum operation and policies, and supervise the Museum Assistants. The Collection Managers are the first persons to contact regarding use of museum facilities or for questions regarding specimen loans, specimen donations, identification services, museum visits, and educational outreach.

Curator Emeriti are retired curators of a division who may maintain an active role in the collection.

Museum Assistants are UNM graduate and undergraduate students who provide assistance for museum operation. Graduate Museum Assistants and undergraduate

Museum Technicians conduct many curatorial tasks such as incorporating specimens into the collection, entering database records, preparing specimen loans, and producing specimen labels.

Other Associated Personnel

Associates are people who work in the museum on research involving the collections. Associates include people who are both associated with UNM, plus people from outside of the university community. Associates provide specimens and information to the museum, including teaching and public outreach activities.

Graduate and Undergraduate Students contribute to the museum through their research and teaching activities. Students involved in research or teaching use museum facilities, and provide the museum with specimens and educational outreach.


images of native animals and plants
Short-horned lizard Phrynosoma hernandesii (I. Murray), Organ Mountains (M. Weisenberger), Escobaria organensis (T. Todsen)