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About the Collection

The Division of Reptiles and Amphibians maintains a collection that is worldwide in scope.  The research collections contain over 200,000 catalogued lots representing approximately  435,000 individual specimens. Approximately 13,000 of these are skeletal preparations. 99.9% of specimens are identified to genus, and greater than 95% of specimens are identified to species.. The collection includes over 6000 type specimens, of which 485 are primary types. Over 90% of the catalogue records have georeference coordinates. The average growth over the last ten years has been nearly 1500 specimens per year. The auxiliary research collections contain 2,145 radiographs, 7,288 kodachrome slides, and over 12,500 frozen tissue samples. All of the above mentioned collections have been inventoried and the data associated with them have been entered into computer databases in FilemakerPro and Specify. A collection of 37 audio tapes containing hundreds of recordings of anuran vocalizations has been digitized and can now be accessed via the Division's webpage, as well as catalogue records and digital images of primary type specimens and radiographs of caecilians. Additionally, the Division maintains a teaching collection primarily used by the Herpetology Class and a Demonstration/Exchange Collection used for dissection and class demonstration.

Organization and Storage

The main research collections, consisting of fluid preserved specimens (amphibians in 65% ethanol and reptiles in 75% ethanol) and skeletons are arranged alphabetically by taxonomy. A locator key with a list of genera and their corresponding shelf , tank, or cabinet number is placed at the head of each of the storage room (range). Bottles on the shelves are further organized by geography for each species, alphabetically by countries, by states for countries in North America, and by counties for Michigan species. This is basically the arrangement for the skeletal collection and the amphibian eggs/larva collection (in 10% buffered formalin). Primary Types are arranged alphabetically by species (original nomenclature) within the orders Gymnophiona, Caudata, Anura, Sauria, Ophidia, and Testudinata. The auxiliary research collections are arranged as follows. Kodachrome slides are organized alphabetically by taxonomy and geography, then numerically. Radiographs are arranged numerically by plate number. Tissues are arranged by field number and ordered into numbered cells of numbered tissue boxes. The teaching and exchange collections are arranged taxonomically. Long term storage of all fluid collections, radiographs, and kodachromes should avoid any light, excessive heat, and excessive humidity, thus the ranges need to be kept dark, cool, and dry. The tissue collections are stored at -80 degrees F in ultracold freezers. The room for the freezers needs to be kept cool to prevent them from over heating.