The Museum of Zoology collections are a nexus for animal-focused biodiversity research within the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at the University of Michigan. Our collections are an integral component of research programs for eight curators, five research scientists, twelve postdoctoral fellows and twenty-four graduate students. Our six collection managers, together with curators, work to provide access to our collections, comprising over 13 million specimens, along with associated data, to researchers both nationally and internationally. We average approximately $877,000/year in extramural funding and $248,000/year in funding from endowments for research and collections support. Please peruse our newly designed website for more information on our resources, personnel and activities.
Forward Moving in 2016
It’s an exciting time for the Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) as we relocate our collections, move to a shared database platform, welcome two new curators and create the position of registrar.
We are currently in the second phase of relocating specimens to our new museums research complex which also houses collections from the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (UMMAA), the Museum of Paleontology (UMMP) and the University Herbarium (UMH). To accommodate our collections and those of the other research museums, approximately 97,000 gross square feet of space was renovated at a total cost of $34,890,117 between 2011 and 2016. The renovation features 1) environmentally-controlled collection space with different temperature and humidity conditions appropriate to protect the various collections, 2) new archival metal specimen cabinets 3) compact storage specimen and paper collections, 4) preparatory laboratories, 5) research space, 6) museum libraries, 6) offices, and 7) a demonstration room for teaching and public programs. We moved over five million fluid preserved specimens in 2012 and we are currently moving an additional eight million “dry” specimens. Completion of the move is scheduled for Spring of 2018. This news article provides additional information along with some photos.
With support from the College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA), the biological research museums, including the UMMZ, are in the process of moving to a common collection management system, Specify. The adoption of Specify encourages stronger linkages among UMMZ divisions and among the research museums more broadly. The project includes server support for archival and active database storage including digitization, scanning and imaging, IT security, and opportunities to innovate. Presently, five of our six divisions have implemented Specify. Database migration will be completed by Winter of 2017.
The UMMZ has two new curators, Assistant Professor Alison Davis Rabosky, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians and Assistant Professor Ben Winger, Curator of Ornithology. Professor Davis-Rabosky joins our ranks in EEB in September. Her research interests include color polymorphism and phenotypic evolution, the evolution of sociality in viviparous lizards, and gene flow and population structure across disjunct distributions. Professor Winger is currently a second-year Michigan Fellow. He will join the faculty as a tenure track Assistant Professor in September 2017. His research foci include speciation and community assembly in Andean birds, geographic range evolution in migratory birds, and the relationship between seasonal migration and dispersal and its influence on speciation.
This past year we created a registrar position to be shared with the UMH. The registrar will help to facilitate specimen acquisitions and loans across all divisions, provide guidance on permitting and compliance. We recently hired Pamela Horsley to fill the position. Pamela received her MS in Natural Resources from McGill University. She has over ten years of experience working in invertebrate collections.
Together with iDigBio, UMH, and UMMP, we are excited to host the inaugural Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference on 5-6 June 2017. A full conference description will be released in late autumn. Please save the date and watch for future announcements here, on several listservs and on the iDigBio website (http://www.idigbio.org).