Natural history collections are physical records of Earth’s biological heritage that help us name, understand, and ultimately protect biodiversity. Most of the specimens are old, but they continue to yield data informing pressing environmental problems through new technologies like ancient DNA analysis.

Our Collections

With 65,000 specimens, our collections are the centerpiece of our research program. Our holdings are digitized and fully searchable online through the Arctos portal (you can select our collection under the drop-down menu under Identifiers). Nearly all of our specimens are fully georeferenced with the aid of field notes to determine precise localities and error. We are happy to loan specimens to scientists who can receive loans at museums. We make every effort to process loans quickly. Free and easy access to specimens is one of our top priorities.


The vast majority of our collection (60,000 specimens) is whole bird study skins. With 50,000 of these from Mexico, we are the largest Mexican bird collection in the world. We also have over 6,000 birds from Ecuador and sizeable holdings from Honduras (2,200), Guatemala (1,200) and Costa Rica (1,200).