Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Crustacean Collection

The INHS Crustacean Collection is the third largest collection of preserved freshwater crustaceans in North America, containing approximately 165,000 specimens representing 240 species. The geographic scope of the collection is about 64% from Illinois, 35% from elsewhere in North America, including 38 states and several Canadian provinces, and 1% from four countries outside North America. The majority of specimens housed in the crustacean collection are freshwater crayfishes in the Order Decapoda; freshwater shrimps (Decapoda), isopods (Isopoda), and amphipods (Amphipoda) make up the remainder of the collection.

A unique aspect of the crustacean collection is that it is completely computerized and on-line. No other major collection of freshwater crustaceans in the United States offers Internet browsers the opportunity to search and download records from a complete collections database. In the computer database, a unique catalog number is assigned to each lot (all specimens of one species collected on the same day at the same site) and information entered for each lot includes species name, the collection location, date of collection, and names of collectors. Each lot is annotated with a stream-drainage code that numbers Illinois' waterways in a hierarchical fashion and enables us to group collections according to a specific stream or drainage basin. A typical request for information asks which species occur in a particular stream, or which localities in a given area contain a particular species.

As with the fish collection, the crustacean collection was established in the late 1800s to provide documentation of the state's fauna. In 1876 the first Chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Stephen A. Forbes, published a List of Illinois Crustacea, With Descriptions of New Species. This publication was one of the first state faunal lists of crustaceans in the United States and provides baseline data on the distribution and habitat of numerous Illinois crustaceans. This information will prove useful in the future as we begin to document the effects of human activity on crustaceans. Given its large holdings of crayfishes, the crustacean collection is also used by crayfish taxonomists working on the descriptions of new species and the plotting of species distributions.

Christopher A. Taylor, Center for Biodiversity

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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