In the last 40 years, the Mammalogy Collection at the Florida Museum has undergone rapid growth and expansion. Between 1979 and the present, the collection has more than doubled, increasing from 14,000 to over 35,000 specimens.

The Mammalogy Collection has over 35,000 catalogued specimens. It consists primarily of skins, skulls, and skeletons. There are also over 200 large tanned skins, and 19% of the collection (approximately 6,900 specimens) has been preserved in fluid. Small mammals predominate, primarily rodents and bats of the southeastern USA, the Caribbean, middle and South America. A small mammal survey of Pakistan by former curator Charles Woods in the 1990’s contributed over 3,000 rodents and insectivores and resulted in one of the largest collections of Pakistani mammals in the Western hemisphere, second only to the Smithsonian.

An important component of the Florida Museum Mammalogy Collection is the marine mammal collection, consisting of > 300 manatee specimens and >800 whales and dolphins, the result of a long-term cooperative effort with the U.S. National Biological Service’s Sirenia research project, the Southeastern Whale Stranding Network, Florida researchers David and Melba Caldwell, and Marineland of Florida. Other major collections that have been acquired and/or catalogued over the past years include: the University of Miami’s cetacean collection, the US Fish and Wildlife’s manatee collection, the Cross Florida Barge Canal collection (Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission – 1,800 small mammals); the William Bowen collection of beach mice, Peromyscus polionotus ([Bowen 1968] – 3,400), and the James Layne collection of (primarily) small mammals from Archbold Biological Station (2,100). Our long-term involvement with the Florida Panther Recovery Program has resulted in the only significant collection of this endangered subspecies in the entire USA with >300 individuals.

The collection continues to grow through current research projects, donations from individuals and collaborative institutions, and through wildlife rehabilitation organizations.

The Florida Museum mammal collection is primarily a research collection, but experiences a broad range of uses beyond this primary function. It is used as a:

  1. Teaching collection for undergraduate and graduate students;
  2. Reference collection for law enforcement (forensic identification of endangered species);
  3. Reference collection for carnivore feeding studies (owl pellet and scat analysis);
  4. Comparative material for students and faculty of zooarcheology and vertebrate paleontology (post-cranial skeletal collection). As part of a large university, the uses of the collection are diverse including applications in biomedical studies, wildlife dentistry, and even studies of environmental contaminants. As the concern for Florida’s environment increases, so does the monitoring of habitats and species by state and federal biologists, resulting in an increased interest in the historical and recent distributions of mammals in Florida by a variety of state and federal agencies.
  5. Provide tours of the collection for area schools, homeschoolers, as well as the Florida Museum Summer Programs. We also collaborate with the University’s Art and Science Program, which allows local art students to work in the collection. *all tours are currently on hold*

For further information, or to arrange for examination of particular specimens, contact the Collection Manager:

Verity Mathis, Ph.D., Collection Manager
Mammalogy – Florida Museum of Natural History
1659 Museum Road
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, USA
Tel: (352) 273-2114
E-mail: vmathis@flmnh.ufl.edu