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Accessions and Loan Policies

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Loan Policy

Specimens are made available for study to any qualified member of the scientific community and other interested persons. Loans are made only to scientists affiliated with an academic or research institution that will assume the responsibility for the care of the material during the tenure of the loan, and for its safe return. 

Informal inquiries about specimen holdings can be made to the UMMZ Bird Division Collection Manager, Janet Hinshaw, via email (  Informal inquiries must be followed by a formal request letter on institutional letterhead if the researcher wishes to pursue the loan. Loans are only granted to permanent institutional faculty or staff, and not to students. Students are welcome to make informal preliminary inquiries, but inquiries from students should be followed by a formal written grant request co-signed by the professor and the student. When requesting a loan please provide a brief summary of the research with objectives of the project and its potential scientific value. Individuals wishing to examine large numbers of specimens or large specimens are encouraged to visit the museum. Specimens of a particular taxonomic group are not usually all loaned at once, both for safety's sake, and so that some may remain for reference. The Museum pays postage for the loan of the specimens to other institutions; it is understood that the recipient institution will take responsibility for return postage. Specimens are usually loaned for 6 months, but in general we do not ask for their return until the research is completed or unless another investigator requests them.

The Curators and Collections Managers will grant or refuse a loan at their discretion. A loan request is considered an acknowledgment on the part of the researcher of the scientific and societal value of specimen collections and their continued growth and maintenance.

Where relevant, loan requests from U.S. researchers must include a copy of the institution’s USDA transport permit. For non-U.S. researchers, loan requests should include a copy of any import permit required by the non-U.S. government.  If no import or transport permit is needed, the researcher must state such in writing at the time that the request is submitted. Species listed only under CITES may be exported under a Certificate of Scientific Exchange if the receiving institution possesses such a certificate.

General Philosophy

The UMMZ Bird Division maintains a collection of frozen tissues, most of which are associated with vouchers in the specimen collection. We wish to make these available to qualified scientists doing legitimate research. Tissue samples are expensive to collect and maintain, and are depleted with use. Thus, we have developed the following guidelines to help us meet our goals of serving the research community and preserving the value of our collection for current and future research.

Researchers may occasionally request samples of feathers, toe pads, or bone from traditional specimens for DNA analysis. However, the researcher must provide compelling reasons why the project cannot be completed without destructive sampling of UMMZ specimens, and convincing evidence for success of the proposed molecular protocols for 'ancient' DNA extraction. Requests for destructive sampling of skin or skeletal material will be evaluated more stringently than other requests.