Administered by the Science Department
Contact person: Dr. John Grehan, Director of Science
Dr. Sara Morris
Mr. Arthur Clark
The division’s collections include more than 30,000 specimens. These consist of approximately 9,000 birds, 1,800 mammals, 3,000 reptiles and amphibians and over 16,000 fish. The preparations include study skins, flat skins, fluid-preserved specimens (most reptiles, amphibians, and fish), skeletons, mounts and freeze-dried specimens. There are also approximately 2,000 sets of bird’s eggs and about 200 nests.
The vertebrate collections include the Dr. R. C. Bothner Collection (over 950 jars of reptiles and amphibians) from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY, and the Dr. J. J. Reedy Collection (over 700 study skins, fluid-preserved specimens and skeletons) from Niagara University.
The fish collection includes the Dr. W. F. Hadley Collection, a large (approx. 1100 jars) collection of fish from the State University of New York at Buffalo and smaller collections of voucher specimens from the Corps of Engineers.
Approximately 50 percent of the collections represent local specimens with most of the remainder from parts of the United States and Canada. Most of the Niagara Frontier region’s 650-plus species of vertebrates are reasonably well-represented, creating a good reference collection. We also have some smaller collections of foreign study specimens used mostly for comparative purposes. Over the years skilled taxidermists —Joseph A. Santens, Bernard C. Hochmuth, James J. Dorr and Peter J. Nowadly—served on the Museum staff and contributed a number of excellent mounted specimens, primarily used for exhibit purposes.
Birds comprise the largest collection in the division. Bird collections acquired over the years include specimens from the estate of K. B. Mathes, the commercial collectors F. B. Webster and F. E. Johnson, the E. Michael Purchase, the G. F. Guelf Collection purchase, the C. K. Worthen Collection, and specimens from H. L. Stoddard, Sr. Noteworthy scientific collections include 70 study skins collected in Veracruz, Mexico by Dr. R. F. Andrle and 71 study skins collected in Guyana by R. S. Singh et al.. The Museum sponsored Spaulding-Barrett African Expeditions to Kenya in 1967 and Mozambique in 1969 brought back 322 birds from Kenya and 43 birds from Mozambique (lists published in a Museum bulletin). Bird specimens from the collections along with field observations are the basis for Birds of the Niagara Frontier Region, the definitive regional work published in 1965.
The collections are also of historical importance with specimens dating back to 1876. Some of our more noteworthy holdings include: fish from the important 1928 Biological Survey of the Erie-Niagara System; bird’s eggs used in studies of pesticide-induced eggshell thinning; and the Philippine Eagle mount which helped save the species from extinction.
The collections, which are the principal source of historical information on the Niagara Frontier region’s vertebrate fauna, are regularly used for reference and study.
Our osteological material has gained extensive use as a result of excavations by our Anthropological and Geological Divisions. Ornithology, Mammalogy, and Vertebrate Zoology clases from nearby universities and colleges use our collections as their specimen resource or for collection tours. Wildlife artists, including a recent New York State duck stamp winner, use our specimens to obtain accurate measurements, shapes and colors. Members of local bird clubs use the study skins for reference and study. Local environmental impact studies have included our collections as part of their data bases and have deposited voucher specimens from their studies with us.
Collection Holdings (in development)