Mammal Collection History

In the last 20 years, the mammalogy collection at the Florida Museum has undergone rapid growth and expansion. Between 1979 and the present, the collection has doubled, increasing from 14,000 to over 32,000 specimens. In the last 10 years, we have acquired the University of Miami's cetacean collection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's manatee collection.

The mammalogy collection has roughly 32,300 catalogued specimens and approximately 1,000 uncatalogued specimens. It consists primarily of skins and skulls, although entire skeletons have been prepared from all specimens acquired during the last 15 years. There are 205 large tanned skins, and 16% of the collection (approximately 4500 specimens) has been preserved in fluid. Small mammals predominate, primarily rodents and bats of the southeastern USA, the Caribbean, middle and South-America. A small mammal survey of Pakistan has contributed 2,600 specimens, rodents and insectivores, in recent years.

An important component of the Florida Museum mammalogy is the marine mammal collection, consisting of 310 manatee specimens and >500 whales and dolphins, the result of a long-term cooperative effort with the U.S. National Biological Service's Sirenia research project, the Southeastern Whale Stranding Network, Florida researchers David and Melba Caldwell, and Marineland of Florida. Other major collections that have been acquired and/or catalogued over the past 15 years include: the Cross Florida Barge Canal collection (Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission - 1,800 small mammals); Bowen collection of beach mice, Peromyscus polionotus (Bowen 1968) - 3,400; James Layne collection of (primarily) small mammals from Archbold Biological Station (2,100). Our involvement with the Florida Panther Recovery Program has resulted in the only significant collection of this endangered Subspecies in the entire USA with >150 individuals.

The collection continues to grow due to current research projects, donations from individuals and collaborative institutions.

The Florida Museum mammal collection is primarily a research collection, but experiences a broad range of uses beyond this primary function. It is used as a:

  1. Teaching collection for undergraduate and graduate students;
  2. Reference collection for law enforcement (forensic identification of endangered species);
  3. Reference collection for carnivore feeding studies (owl pellet and scat analysis);
  4. Comparative material for students and faculty of zooarcheology and vertebrate paleontology (post-cranial skeletal collection). As part of a large university, the uses of the collection are diverse including applications in biomedical studies, wildlife dentistry, and even studies of environmental contaminants. As the concern for Florida's environment increases, so does the monitoring of habitats and species by state and federal biologists, resulting in an increased interest in the historical and recent distributions of mammals in Florida by a variety of state and federal agencies.
  5. Provide tours of the collection for area schools, homeschoolers, as well as the Florida Museum Summer Programs. We also collaborate with the University’s Art and Science Program, which allows local art students to work in the collection.

For further information, or to arrange for examination of particular specimens, contact the Collection Manager:

Verity Mathis, Ph.D., Collection Manager
Mammalogy - Florida Museum of Natural History
Dickinson Hall at Museum Rd. and Newell Dr.
P.O.Box 117800, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA
Tel: (352) 273-2114 | Fax: 352 846-0287
E-mail: vmathis@flmnh.ufl.edu