Biological Collections: Crucial upgrades to specimen storage, organization, and database management at the rapidly growing Texas A&M Collection of Fishes
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Natural history collections document life on earth, past and present, and represent an invaluable and irreplaceable resource for the study of biodiversity. Proper and long-term management of natural history collections, including both physical specimens and their associated data, is crucial for scientific research by contemporary and future researchers. The Collection of Fishes at Texas A&M University is a substantial university-based ichthyology collection that has experienced rapid growth over the last 20 years. This collection serves a dual research and teaching role on the Texas A&M campus and more regionally, acting as both reference collection and specimen repository for researchers at other universities in Texas and other southern US states. A major goal of this project is a collection-wide physical re-organization and re-curation of specimens, coupled with a database platform migration that will safeguard the physical and digital content of this collection, facilitate growth, and broadly improve capacity to serve the national and international ichthyological research community as well as a growing community of non-traditional users of specimen data (e.g., K-12 educators, artists). Goals also include training of undergraduate students and Texas Master Naturalist volunteers in natural history specimen curation and management, novel undergraduate student course assignments and K-12 science-based art workshops focused on vertebrate natural history and ichthyology, and development of a temporary public exhibit showcasing the rare specimens from this university-based collection. The project will involve installation of new shelving and metal tanks to facilitate wholesale reorganization and re-curation of current alcohol specimens in the Collection of Fishes at Texas A&M University and to generate ample space for future growth.........