History of the MSB Mammal Collection






William J. Koster
James S. Findley

Terry L. Yates

William R. Barber
Laura L. Janecek














In 1936 William J. Koster joined the UNM faculty and formal management and maintenance of the MSB collections began. The MSB collections served primarily as teaching collections for the department of Biology, the mammal collections grew slowly until 1955.



Dr. James S. Findley assumed duties as curator of mammals in 1955.
  • Between 1955 and 1978 more than 36,000 specimens were added to the collection.
  • The initial focus of the collection was regional with Findley and his students conducting research on mammals of New Mexico and the southwest.
  • Later, significant collections of mammals from Costa Rica, Panama, Africa, and Mexico were added.
  • Major educational program in mammalian ecology and systematics begun during this period at the graduate and undergraduate levels
  • 60 students received graduate degrees under the direction of Dr. Findley.
  • In 1978, Dr. Findley was appointed Chairman of the Biology Department and Director of the MSB.

                                            Findley Publications











Dr. Terry L. Yates was appointed Curator of Mammals in 1978.
  • The hiring of Dr. Yates added new dimensions to mammalogy at UNM. 
  • In 1979, the Division of Mammals began saving new materials that formed the nucleus of the Division of Genomic Resources (DGR), now the largest collection of frozen mammalian tissues (heart, liver, kidney, spleen, etc.) in the world.
  • A large percentage of the current MSB collection of mammals now consists of “holistic” voucher specimens that include not only skins and skulls, but post-cranial skeletons, frozen tissues and in many cases chromosome preparations, and endo and ecto parasites.
  • More than 90,000 specimens (including federal BRD specimens) were added under Yates’ tenure as Curator (1978-2003).
  • Yates and his students added major collections from Asia, North America, Europe, and Latin America.               

                                                               Yates Publications












An NSF Integrated Inventory of the mammals of Bolivia (1984-1993) in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History resulted in over 10,000 mammals and parasites from Bolivia along with comparative samples from Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras.



In 1989, UNM received support to establish a long-term ecological research site (LTER) on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge resulting in the addition of large series of local mammals to the MSB collections, accompanied by large amounts of ecological and climatic data.



In 1994, vertebrates from the USGS Biological Surveys Collection, Fort Collins (BS/FC) were moved to the MSB. From 1981 to 2006, Dr. Michael Bogan served as the Curator of that collection, now called the USGS Biological Surveys Collection, Albuquerque. The Federal collection contains over 26,000 specimens of dry and fluid-preserved mammals and is particularly rich in specimens from western Federal lands in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The Federal collections and databases have been fully integrated into the MSB collections since March 2012.



Dr. Joseph Cook was appointed Curator of Mammals in 2003
  • Dr. Cook continued the tradition of Findley and Yates of active growth and use of the collection through student-based research projects.
  • Under Cook, NSF, NIH, USDA, and other federally supported projects have added over 100,000 new specimens from northwestern North America (Alaska, British Columbia, NW Territories, and Yukon), Asia (Russia, Mongolia, China), Latin America (Chile, Panama), and the Southwestern US.

                                                                                   Cook Publications




Three large collections have recently (2008-2011) been integrated into the MSB; including portions of the University of Illinois (Donald Hoffmeister) collection (32,750 specimens from SW US, Alaska, Latin America), the Robert L. Rausch collection (4,000 specimens from Alaska, Russia, Canada), and the James Lackey collection (1,500 Northeastern US specimens). 
The parasite material had been archived primarily at the Manter Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the USDA National Parasite Collection (Beltsville, MD), and the Smithsonian Institution, but newly acquired material is now archived in the new Division of Parasitology at MSB.






The MSB Division of Mammals ranks among the 5 largest collections of mammals worldwide and first among university-based collections.


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