Natural history specimens consist of two key components: the physical voucher and the associated data. Care for a collection consists of managing both of these aspects of the specimen.
ASU Vertebrate Natural History Collections contain voucher specimens totaling approximately 20,000 lots of fishes, 38,000 herps, 1,800 birds, and 9,000 mammals. ASUVNHC also houses a growing tissue collection of approximately 1,500 tissue samples and a herpetology photo observation database consisting of approximately 600 photo observations. Our collections are worldwide with regional strengths in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The majority of our collections consist of material collected between the 1960s and 1980s, but we are growing and currently accepting new specimens. New material is prepared according to the principles of the extended specimen to maximize the amount of data obtainable from a given collecting event.
The data associated with these specimens are publicly searchable through the Consortium of Small Vertebrate Collections (CSVColl) portal, which serves as a hub for natural history specimen data from collections across the world. Our collection data are pushed regularly from CSVColl to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). I manage the CSVColl portal and assist other collection managers in establishing collection databases and using the tools the Symbiota database platform offers.
A few of my favorite specimens:
Some example Standard Operating Procedure documents: