Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Mammal Collection

The INHS Mammal Collection contains approximately 1,000 specimens, most of which are from Illinois. Many of the specimens were collected by Dr. Philip W. Smith between 1930 and 1950, but the oldest specimens date back to the early 1900s. The collection provides nearly complete taxonomic coverage of the mammal species that occur in Illinois. The collection also has proven very useful for educational outreach. For example, a display case containing specimens of the 12 bat species found in the state has traveled (accompanied by curator Joyce Hofmann) to nearly two dozen schools in central and northern Illinois as well as several nature centers, museums, and special events.

INHS also has assumed curatorial responsibility for the University of Illinois Museum of Natural History (UIMNH) Mammal Collection, which contains more than 61,000 cataloged specimens, including 20 type specimens. In 1987 the UIMNH was ranked as the 11th largest mammal collection in North America. Although the collection has not been active in recent years, it probably remains among the continent's top 15 collections. Former curator Dr. Donald F. Hoffmeister has been a major figure in the field of mammalogy and trained many of the professional mammalogists now active around the country. Dr. Hoffmeister is the author of Mammals of Arizona (1986) and Mammals of Illinois (1989), and the UIMNH houses large collections of specimens from these states. The collections of mammals from the midwestern and southwestern U.S. are of major importance because they include documentation of the historical distributions of species in these regions as well as important taxonomic specimens. The combined mammal collections--almost every mammalian family is represented--contain specimens from every state except Hawaii and more than 30 foreign countries.

The INHS and UIMNH Mammal Collections are an important resource for biologists working in Illinois. They document the past distribution of mammals in the state and provide a benchmark against which to compare current distributions and changes induced by modern land use. They also include valuable data on the taxonomy and genetic diversity of Illinois' recent mammalian fauna that could become useful for studies of conservation genetics as new techniques to extract information from the DNA in museum specimens are developed.

Edward J. Heske, Center for Wildlife Ecology, and Joyce E. Hofmann, Center for Biodiversity

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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