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Mammal Division Policies

The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) Mammal Division (hereafter, Mammal Division) has implemented the following policies in accordance with the approved guidelines of the UMMZ. These policies cover use of the Mammal Division collections only and do not necessary reflect the position of other UMMZ divisions. These policies apply to all researchers and students requesting to utilize the Mammal Division collections, including those affiliated with the University of Michigan.

Collection Database
The Mammal Division collection database is available online through VertNet.  In addition, the Mammal Division collection database is published through iDigBio and GBIF. Although every effort has been made to maintain accurate specimen data, the absolute veracity of distributional, ecological, taxonomic and other such data should not be assumed and the Mammal Division can not be held responsible for any errors. In many instances specimen data have been entered from the original paper catalogs and have not been verified by current Mammal Division curatorial staff. Some specimens may be listed under old names and junior synonyms. Identifications should be verified by direct inspection of the specimens whenever possible.

Acquisition of Specimens
The donation of specimens or related materials may be received at the discretion of the Mammal Division curatorial staff. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain the proper permits for scientific collecting, salvaging, and importing and exporting of specimens and related materials. The Mammal Division requires that photocopies of all paperwork necessary to obtain these specimens be filed with the Mammal Division collections manager upon deposit of the specimens into the collection. In addition, the specimens must be accompanied by relevant collection data, such as locality, collection date, etc. If a researcher intends to donate specimens resulting from scientific collecting to the Mammal Division, the Mammal Division requires researchers to follow the Division guidelines for the preservation of voucher specimens and associated tissues to be deposited into the collection, including standards for recording specimen data, preparing voucher specimens, and obtaining tissue samples. These guidelines are not meant to hinder the activities of the researcher, but they are meant to provide standards for the proper curation of deposited material for future study. The Mammal Division will provide the appropriate specimen tags, tissue vials, archival paper, etc. to expedite the acquisition process. Please contact the Mammal Division collections manager for instruction on these practices.

Outgoing Loans to Other Collections/Institutions
Voucher specimens
The Mammal Division provides loans of skins, skeletons, and fluid-preserved specimens for scientific research. The loan of research specimens for teaching is not allowed, except in rare circumstances to University of Michigan faculty. In general, loans of large numbers of specimens or loans of rare specimens are not accommodated. A visit to the Mammal Division may be required if examination of such material is necessary. However, depending on the situation, large loans may be made in two or more shipments, with later installments shipped only after the safe return of the previous shipment(s). In addition, researchers with specimens currently on loan may be denied access to more material until the safe return of the material currently in their possession. Loans of type specimens, primates, and singletons are never allowed under any circumstance.

All loan requests must be made in writing with a brief statement describing the use of the material. Loans can be made only to qualified researchers at institutions with the proper facilities to house and care for the loaned specimens. Those researchers without the proper facilities may request loans be sent to an appropriate institution, provided that the necessary arrangements have been made in advance. Loan requests made by students and postdoctoral fellows must be co-signed by their faculty mentor. Loan requests must be approved by a member of the Mammal Division curatorial staff.

If necessary, the borrower must provide copies of the necessary import and export permits (or any other necessary documentation) to the Mammal Division. If these permits are not needed, the borrower must express such in his/her loan request. Appropriate notice must be given by the prospective borrower to the Mammal Division curatorial staff to ensure adequate time for processing the loan request.

For simplicity, the shipper usually pays shipping costs. The Mammal Division will pay for normal shipping and insurance costs to the borrower, and the borrower pays for normal return shipping and insurance. In the case of unusual requests, such as extra-cost shipping services, the Mammal Division may ask that the borrower pay for all shipping costs.

Upon receipt of loaned specimens, all specimens should be documented for any damage. Any damage should be noted on the return copy of the invoice of specimens. Absolutely no destructive sampling of loaned specimens is permitted without the expressed permission from the Mammal Division curator. The borrower is liable for any undocumented damage of specimens.

Loans typically are made for a 6-month period, unless otherwise noted. All loans should be packaged and returned to the Mammal Division in the manner that they were sent. Loaned specimens returned in an unacceptable condition may result in the denial of future requests by that borrower. Loans cannot be transferred to other individuals and institutions without the expressed written permission of the Mammal Division curatorial staff.

Tissue grants and destructive sampling
The Mammal Division maintains a tissue collection housed in vapor-phase liquid nitrogen freezers that is available for loan. In addition, the Mammal Division will allow for the destructive sampling of vouchered specimens. However, due to the limited availability of both resources, additional scrutiny is warranted in the vetting process of these types of loans.

To request tissue or the destructive sampling of specimens, loan requests must be submitted on institutional letterhead and addressed to the Mammal Division curator. As with traditional voucher loan requests, loans made by students and postdoctoral fellows must be co-signed by their faculty mentor. The request must provide a brief summary of the research and justification of why a tissue grant or destructive sampling of UMMZ specimens is necessary to the project. In particular, the potential borrower should address the following: project objectives, scientific value, feasibility and timeframe, access to other material, methods of sampling, qualifications to perform proposed work, and the availability of funding. In addition, details of the specimens needed for the study should be included.

Loan requests for tissue grants or destructive sampling will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Requests will be judged on the following criteria: kind and extent of request, including previous efforts, availability of material from other sources and effort made by the prospective borrower to obtain that material, availability of the material in the Mammal Division, rarity and irreplaceability of the samples, demonstrated ability to perform the work, funding support, and potential for publication.

All tissues will be sent in ethanol, unless otherwise noted. For shipments requiring dry ice, the prospective borrower must provide a FedEx account number in their initial request. If necessary, the borrower must provide copies of the necessary import and export permits (or any other documentation) to the Mammal Division. If these permits are not needed, the borrower must express such in their initial request. Appropriate notice must be given by the prospective borrower to the Mammal Division curatorial staff to ensure adequate time for processing the loan request.

Due to the potential for contamination, the Mammal Division does not accept the return of unused tissue samples, skin or bone samples, or DNA extracts from any sample. However, the expressed written permission of the Mammal Division curator is required to transfer this material to other individuals or institutions. Use of the samples for other projects not outlined in the initial loan request requires additional approval from the Mammal Division curator.

Incoming Loans from Other Collections/Institutions
Specimens may be loaned to the Mammal Division from other institutions for the purpose of scientific research, teaching, or other scholarly activities. Incoming loans must be made to a member of the Mammal Division curatorial staff. Loans to students, postdoctoral fellows, adjunct faculty members, or visiting researchers are not allowed; however, they may be made under the name of a sponsoring member of the Mammal Division curatorial staff. Upon receipt, copies of all documents detailing the loan must be given to the Mammal Division collections manager. The responsibility for the care and return of loaned material are assigned to the receiving member of the Mammal Division curatorial staff. All incoming loans must be handled under the guidelines of the lending institution.

Visitor Policy
The collections of the Mammal Division are available to researchers and students in the pursuit of scholarly work. The collections of the Mammal Division are not open to the general public. However, tours of the Mammal Division collections by classes may be arranged.

Requests to visit the collection should be made at least two weeks in advance and are coordinated by the Mammal Division collections manager. Requests to visit must include a brief description of the activities to be conducted in the collection, taxa to be examined, and proposed dates for the visit. Any visitor that would like to conduct destructive sampling needs to also follow the procedures for such detailed above.

Access to the collections will be during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm), unless prior arrangements have been made with the Mammal Division curatorial staff. Observeduniversity holidays will not be available for collection visits.

Acknowledgment of Collection Use
Researchers must agree to acknowledge the Mammal Division and cite the use of specimens or samples used in any subsequent publication resulting from the examination of material through loans or visits to the collection. The UMMZ catalog number(s) should be reported appropriately in the “Specimens Examined” section of the publication. In addition, all genetic data produced from the examination of tissues or samples acquired through destructive sampling should be deposited in GenBank or other appropriate genetic data repositories as necessary. The UMMZ catalog number for the corresponding voucher specimen should be noted when depositing genetic data in these repositories. A reprint (or pdf) of any publication resulting from the examination of Mammal Division collection material must be sent to the Mammal Division collections manager. Failure to comply with these policies may result in loss of access to the Mammal Division collections and its resources.